Despite the fact that last week Comcast settled their dispute with Fox Sports and BTN, many Rutgers fans are still unsettled about how their fandom was held hostage in the negotiations. They are continuing to look at ways to ensure that their love of Rutgers sports can not be held as a weapon against them in the future.
With that in mind, On the Banks wants to offer you the different ways you can still have access to sports networks, even if you are not a Comcast cable TV subscriber. So, short of stealing someone else’s password to achieve this goal, we are going to show you the different methods of watching the wide range of “non-network” sports without a cable TV connection.
Please note at the front that this is not aimed at attempting to pursuade anyone to make changes to their programming, as each alternate method has upside as well as downside. Cable TV is still the easiest method to get these networks, as all you need to do it turn on the TV and they’re there. However, over the past few years, more and more people are choosing to “cut the cord” of cable TV and move to streaming services to achieve the same end. Most of these offer promotions that do not require a contract, which means you can start and stop whenever you want. For those who watch most of their television during football and basketball season, this is a definite advantage, as you can cancel your extra channels without additional cost.
If you don’t really know what I’m talking about here when we discuss cutting the cable cord, here’s a video about what is involved.
What do I need?
- Most importantly, you need a fast internet connection. Without a cable box, you need to stream these services. Any of you who have Netflix, and complain that it is always “buffering” and you have your movie stop periodically, the same will happen with sports, UNLESS you upgrade your internet speed.
- For most, you need a local TV antenna. The good news for this is that it isn’t necessary to have the big ol’ antenna on the roof, or even the old style “bunny ears.” Modern atennas are designed to be in your home, and mounted on the wall behind you screen. You can get local channels with some services, but it has to do with how far from New York and Philadelphia you live.
- If you don’t have a “smart” television, you need another device to watch TV on your set. A smart television often gives you access to either built-in or downloadable apps for watching streaming TV services, or you need to get a Roku stick, Fire TV, Apple TV or some similar type of access. Also, going back to my point above about buffering, it may be better for you to hook your TV directly up with your internet using an ethernet cable in case the WiFi is spotty in your home. A final method is hooking up your computer via an HDMI cable or Apple Thunderbolt cable (if you have a Mac) and “mirroring” your computer image to the TV if the above doesn’t work for you.
OK, that takes care of the “need to have” pieces before we talk about what options you have. If the last three paragraphs are gibberish to you, it probably means you are over 30, and electronics are not your thing. Call your child, or younger buddies, and have him or her hook this part up with you, but be aware this may already be over your head. Moving on...
I’m going to list this by price in descending order or quality. All have advantages as well as disadvantages, so it isn’t simple.
Dish TV- $55 per month (deals on either 7 days free, or $30 credit for first three months)
This is the most well-known of cable TV alternatives. There are now two ways to get the Dish Network. The most well-known is to hook up a dish on your roof and get your television directly from a satellite. I’m not discussing that option, I’m talking about their relatively new streaming service, which offers the three sports networks (ESPN, Fox Sports, BTN) as well as local network channels in most areas. With their three month special (use REALDEAL as the promo code at checkout) you can get through most of the college football season relatively cheaply.
PlayStation Vue- $49.99 per month (five day free trial)
The grandaddy of streaming services, PlayStation Vue seems to have all of the bugs worked out of it. Many people don’t realize that, despite the name, you do not need to own a PS3 or PS4 to use this option. Like Dish, all of the sports networks are available as well as local TV in most areas. When the local channels are not available, they have an “On Demand” option, which is NOT live TV, so be sure to check what is in your area first.
Hulu with Live TV- $39.99 per month (one week free trial)
While cheaper, Hulu offers an alternative practically identical to the PlayStation Vue option. The streaming service is described by Hulu as a “beta” option, but it’s been around for a while now, so don’t let that scare you off. If your smart TV doesn’t support Hulu Live, you’ll need some type of device (like a Roku stick) to get the service.
You Tube TV- $40 per month (seven day free trial)
You Tube TV seems like a good option, as it offers all of the sports channels you want in their streaming service, including ESPN (and the other ESPNs), Fox Sports, and BTN. However, and this is important to note, you can not use You Tube TV if you also use Amazon Fire on your TV, as they refuse to play nice and work together.
Sling Orange + Blue- $40 per month (seven day free trial)
Sling offers ESPN and Fox Sports, but not BTN, so that may be a deal-breaker for many (it would for me) as many Rutgers games are shown on BTN only. Also, because Sling doesn’t have local channels, you’ll need that antenna option for this. However, Sling is the most popular streaming service available, and you can choose what you want in an “a la carte” menu option.
Fubo TV- $44.95 per month (seven day free trial, $5 off first month)
Fubo is a relative new competitor, but it offers a lot of channels including Fox Sports and BTN, but doesn’t seem to offer ESPN in their lineup. It does offer (as do others) a “Cloud DVR” option, which is nice to have in case you can’t be there for a game.
Note: The top post by TrollsDestroyedNJcom (great name!) added the top comment about DIRECTV Now offers a live streaming package as well. Click here to visit the site.
There are other streaming services available, such Philo and AT&T, but I did not include them in this list, as they don’t offer sports networks, the purpose of this article. Here is a chart that shows over 170 networks and which are offered by which service. Despite the large number, it does not include BTN. Others have looked into this, and the information I have here is the best I have been able to research. However, that doesn’t mean I know more about this than anyone. If you have options you have either liked or disliked, I strongly encourage you to add your information to the comments section. If there is something important that I missed, I will edit this article to reflect that over the next week or so. Also, I’ve included a poll to see how our readers feel about this.
Good luck to you in your sports viewing at home, and I hope you find the option you like best, whether it is cable, streaming, or some combination of the two.
Are you planning to change how you receive your sports on television?
This poll is closed
No, I have no plans to change from cable anytime soon
Not right now, but I am interested in the alternatives
I wasn’t interested, but the cable company battles with networks are making me look at it
I am definitely going to cut the cord soon
Where have you been? I already got rid of cable and use a streaming option!