How to cut the cord without losing sports this summer
Summer is finally here, and while many of us are excited to step outside and play in the sun, we by no means want to miss out on the action of our favorite sports.
Luckily for us, modern streaming services (like ESPN+, DAZN, Sling TV and add-ons through Amazon Prime Video) allow sports fans to enjoy the big game, tournament or fight even when they're not sitting in front of a television.
Here's a breakdown of how to utilize these services and cut the cord without missing out on sports this summer.
Best streaming services for sports
Before we get into your favorite sports and what streaming services are best to watch them through this summer, let's take a look at the services themselves and how to access them:
ESPN+ is a subscription service that's meant to give users more convenient access to original ESPN programming and live sports. Users also get access to sports radio, podcasts, and an on-demand library of different ESPN shows for a relatively low price of $4.99 per month. (Additional fees will apply for certain PPV events.) You can access ESPN+ on most mobile and streaming devices including Roku, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Android and iOS devices. The company has been pushing this platform big time as of late, and are constantly adding more services to it in hopes it catches on with the public.
Amazon Prime Video is an on-demand video service developed by Amazon that allows its members to buy, rent, and instantly watch digital movies and TV shows. You get access to it by signing up for Amazon Prime, which costs $119 per year or $12.99 per month. Its members can also add third-party channel subscriptions (like MLB.tv, for a price) and other services that carry live sports (for free) directly through Prime Video. Members can access Amazon Prime video from their computers (PC and Mac), Amazon Fire devices, as well as Android and iOS devices.
DAZN (pronounced "Da Zone") is a hot new live streaming service that lets sports fans stream live events for $19.99 per month or $99.99 per year. What makes DAZN unique is its emphasis on live MMA and boxing events. While it's clearly embraced the fighting culture, it still delivers a growing range of live sports programming from soccer to cricket. DAZN is available on Android and iOS mobile devices, as well as PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles.
Sling TV is a streaming service that allows you to pick your channel lineup & personalize your viewing experience. It basically allows you to get rid of cable and still watch your favorite live sports TV channels (like NBC or TNT) for $25 a month, so it can always be seen as a safe bet for sports events aired on popular TV networks. With a basic package, you'll be limited to how many devices you can stream from at once, but at a slighter higher price, users can stream from up to four devices simultaneously.
How to watch your favorite summer sports
Now that we've covered the top sports streaming services, let's take a look at the most popular sports heading into the summer, and how you can stay connected.
Those who love baseball will have a few different options. ESPN+ will not only stream over 180 games as part of their regular subscription package, but fans can also purchase and watch MLB.tv through ESPN+, allowing themselves a streamlined (no pun intended) experience. MLB.tv offers every out-of-market MLB game throughout the regular season for a monthly fee of $24.99. Together, ESPN+ and MLB.tv are a baseball-streaming powerhouse. Fans should also be aware that they can add MLB.tv to their subscription service through Amazon Prime Video as well, depending on their preferences.
DAZN also provides baseball fans some live content, but with a slightly different approach. They currently offer a live look into the MLB season through an exclusive show called "ChangeUp" that tracks live games league-wide to deliver up-to-date stats and highlights. If you're familiar with NFL Redzone, then this is the closest thing to the MLB version.
ESPN+ is best for baseball fans who don't care for their local team. Not only will you have access to national games, but it also works well after you purchase MLB.tv, which grants users access to out-of-market games as well.
If you want to keep up with the team in your media market, we recommend going with Sling TV, YouTube TV or Hulu Live.
Boxing and MMA
This summer, DAZN will broadcast bouts that feature big names like Saul Canelo Alvarez and Anthony Joshua. DAZN is also the primary place to watch Bellator-promoted MMA fights.
For fans of the UFC, don't look further than ESPN+. The streaming service offers exclusive UFC content and charges a standard fee of $59.99 for each PPV event. It's worth noting that the UFC has an exclusive deal with ESPN, so all UFC pay-per-view events will be available to ESPN+ subscribers.
DAZN and ESPN+ are the best services for watching fights -- boxing and MMA in particular. If you're a fan of the UFC you'll want to hop on ESPN+. If you love boxing and support the Bellator brand you'll want to check out the DAZN subscription service.
As Tiger Woods returns to prominence, this summer should see a revival for golf viewership. Nonetheless, Amazon Prime Video is a great way to watch all of this summer's top golf tournaments. Through Amazon, viewers can add PGA Tour Live to their accounts and have access to 28 PGA Tour events in 2019, more than double the amount of live golf hours offered last year.
Amazon Prime Video should be your go-to service for golf. With PGA Tour live, users will have access to many of the years top tournaments. Adding ESPN+ will bridge the gap for most of the rest.
As most tennis fans know, the summer season is when the sport's best is put on full display. With the French Open in May, Wimbledon in July, and the US Open capping things off in August, die-hard fans will want to stay tuned in as best they can. Amazon Prime Video has partnered with the ATP Tour to bring an extensive list of quality matches to the platform, but it's ESPN+ that covers the four major Grand Slam tennis events for viewers in the US.
Casual tennis fans should stick with ESPN+ for the big tournaments. The service offers coverage of the three top men's and women's tournaments this summer: The French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open. Die-hards should add the ATP Tour offerings to their Amazon Prime Video account.
This summer is poised to create more American soccer fans with MLS rivalries getting another year older and several major international teams traveling stateside for friendlies, including Liverpool, AC Milan, and Real Madrid. Multiple streaming services have taken notice but serious soccer fans who want access to the various leagues around the globe will need to choose between DAZN and ESPN+.
Users who want to watch the NBA playoffs as we near the finals will be at the mercy to the network who owns the rights to airing the last two rounds of the tournament.
Sling TV is best for the NBA Finals because with the season winding down Sling allows users to watch TNT or ABC, which own the rights to broadcasting the NBA conference finals and championship. YouTube TV and Hulu Live are suitable options as well.
NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs
Like the NBA, broadcasts of the Stanley Cup playoffs are owned by one network -- in this case, NBC. Fans will need to tune directly into the channel to catch the matches. Luckily, Sling TV, YouTube TV and Hulu Live allow for live streaming of the channel.
Sling TV is best for the NHL Finals for the same reason as the NBA finals. NBC owns the rights to airing the games, and users are able to stream the network directly to their devices. You can also buy access to the NBC Sports app as an a'la carte offering, but it isn't as cost effective as the other, more-inclusive options.
Taji Morris is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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