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Live Sports: One More Reason to Get Rid of Cable

This article was written by in Frugality. 7 comments.

Among the more popular reasons for not ditching cable is the desire to watch live sports. ESPN is coming to the rescue of many future cable-less households by introducing live, streaming sports in HD through the Xbox.

In order to benefit, you’ll need to be an Xbox Live Gold member, which is about $50 a year, and also brings you benefits like Netflix streaming (with a separate but cheap Netflix membership). You’ll also need to be a subscriber to a limited (albeit lengthy) list of broadband providers. Big players like Cox, Comcast, Verizon and AT&T are on the list, though AT&T comes with the warning that the service is for DSL and Uverse customers only.

As for the content itself, CNET reports:

The ESPN service will offer 3,500 live events in addition to on-demand content from college football and basketball, MLB, NBA, and soccer games; though there was no direct mention of the NFL and NHL. These streaming games will also offer some DVR functionality too…

You can also sometimes find certain sporting events, like the World Cup, available streaming through services like Boxee, but you can’t always rely on that happening. It’s good to see an established, big-budgeted institution like ESPN making their content available to “broadband-only” households.


Updated October 13, 2016 and originally published June 25, 2010.

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About the author

Smithee formerly lived primarily on credit cards and the good will of his friends. He is a newbie to personal finance but quickly learning from his past mistakes. You can follow him on Twitter, where his user name is @SmitheeConsumer. View all articles by .

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Anonymous

ESPN only has a handful of MLB games and college games…how can they broadcast them?

I bet they don’t mention NFL because directTV has a stranglehold on broadcasting any game not in market.

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avatar 2 Anonymous

It’s a good start but ESPN provides only a portion of sports-related content. For the NFL you’ll still need to rely on your local major network channels (CBS, FOX, NFL Network), ditto for the other major sports who may also depend on smaller networks. Hockey games get broadcast on the Versus channel. And, of course, you’d have to get premium packaging if you want to watch *all* games from a particular league, or at least if you’re a fan of out-of-market teams (ie. you live in the NYC area but are a fan of the Arizona Diamondbacks). Honestly, I don’t see ANY major sports league offering up their content for free any time soon.

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avatar 3 Anonymous

Yeah this to me is the biggest hurdle – getting the actual teams from all four major sports leagues to buy into streaming content this way, because that’s where the money is and probably the only reason in-market sports fans don’t cut the cord with cable. While many of the different leagues offer their individual sports packages online (as well as on cable & satellite) the blackout restrictions prohibit the local games in your market from being shown anywhere but on the local cable channel at the exact time the game is played, etc.

Plus, many of these cable behemoths either control the TV contracts of these teams or just outright own the teams themselves. Here in New York, Cablevision has majority stakes in the Knicks & Rangers and also hold the TV contracts for the Islanders, Devils, Red Bull NY etc. And they used to own the rights to the Yankees & Mets’ TV contracts too until both teams started their own TV networks, despite Cablevision fighting them tooth and nail.

Either way, I think it’s going to take some time, a lot of money & a major slugfest with these cable operators (and maybe even the government itself) before you see something like Hulu for sports. The cable industry for years has fought to keep their anti-choice monopolies and I don’t see it changing anytime soon.


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avatar 4 Anonymous

If ESPN is going live for free online… well, good reason to ditch cable. But man, I love the DVR and cable function.

Sports are just too enjoyable to miss!

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avatar 5 Anonymous

Even with this I think there will still be a lot of holes in sports coverage in online streaming services. Quite honestly, sports is one of the few reasons I still have cable. otherwise we stream everything we watch via the Playon software to our xbox 360.

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avatar 6 Anonymous

I don’t have cable and I think its great. We watch shows through netflix, itunes, hulu, network websites and other download services. I have quit buying movies unless I really, really want them. We are huge movie junkies band do just find without cable, plus now we feel like we’re running our own network. We don’t even have tivo.

My bf figured out how to hook up our computers to the xbox, and connect it to the tv, he’s a programmer and he did all of this, and once our movies are done, we watch them on the flat screen tv. I love our system. We don’t have cable, no tivo. The xbox can play dvds so we just use any dvds from netflix on it. Its nice to not pay for cable. =)

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avatar 7 Anonymous

ESPN does not offer NASCAR through Xbox. TNT has Race Buddy where you can watch it online live on their website or I would ditch cable in a second if they offered it live online like TNT does. The reason I don’t cancel my cable is that 1/2 the races are on ESPN. Most of the major races are on ESPN.

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