According to NoCable.org, the number of American households cutting cable or satellite television packages increases by approximately four million homes per year. Improvements to Internet streaming services like Netflix and Hulu make entertainment more affordable and convenient than paid cable or satellite subscriptions. So it’s of little surprise that households on a tight budget are cutting the cord to save money.
However, according to a 2016 study conducted by The Center for the Digital Future at USC Annenberg and ThePostGame, sports fans may be more hesitant to embrace this trend.
In fact, more than 90% of sports fans are willing to pay for some form of sports programming. Additionally, many sports fans feel like free sources of entertainment are not enough to deliver all the sports content they desire.
Thankfully, with a bit of tech-savviness and know-how, it is possible to watch sports online for free. Stop overpaying for sports events, and turn to the following websites and money-saving tips the next time your favorite team is playing.
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Free Unofficial Streams for Live Sports
Popular streaming services are an affordable way to access thousands of shows and movies. However, streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime video have a glaring lack of content for sports fans.
The right to stream premium sports content comes with a hefty price tag, so streaming companies have largely left the market untouched. However there are several websites that allow fans to watch almost any sports game for free from their computer.
The resources in this list are unofficial, nonsponsored streams. It’s up to your discretion to choose a streaming service. Always research streaming laws and laws surrounding copyrighted content in your country before streaming sports content on the Internet.
Reddit is part social news aggregator and part online forum. Reddit organizes communities or topics into subreddits. Creating an account on Reddit is free, and users can easily subscribe to various subreddits to follow content from topics that interest them the most.
Some of the largest subreddits include r/worldnews, r/science, and r/AskReddit, a community where Reddit members ask thought-provoking questions for anyone to chime in on.
However, Reddit also has a large number of sports communities. Many of these groups also provide Reddit members with the ability to watch online sports games for free.
The top subreddits and communities run by Reddit fans for streaming free sports content include:
- Free MLB Game Streams: r/MLBStreams
- Free NBA Game Streams: NBAStreams.xyz
- Free NHL, NFL, And College Football streams: SportSurge.net
You might be wondering why some of these streams are not actually on Reddit.com. Reddit recently banned the top sports streaming subreddits as streaming copyrighted content violates copyright law. However, Reddit moderators now run many streaming communities on self-hosted sites. Sports streams posted here are typically high in quality, with unstable or broken links being removed quickly.
Kodi is an open-source software add-on that works on TV, laptops, phones, and tablets. Kodi isn’t a website, but rather a media center where you can install files and apps to watch at your leisure. Essentially, it acts as an app store and media player for your television or phone.
Kodi doesn’t let you stream sports for free right out of the gate. However, once you install Kodi on your device, you can install various sports add-ons that enable you to stream sports games.
Some of the most popular sports addons for Kodi include:
- SportsDevil: Offers all-around sports coverage with replays and live streams.
- The Crew: Has multiple categories, including sports replays.
- Sportz: Includes live sports, documentaries, and outdoor content like fishing and hunting.
- The End-Zone: Focuses on the NFL, NBA, NCAAF, and MMA.
- Rising Tides: Offers coverage of a variety of live sports.
- Sport 365: Similar to Rising Tides with a focus on live sports.
Kodi takes some getting used to because the interface is antiquated and somewhat confusing for beginners.
Additionally, installing a Kodi add-on isn’t as simple as just searching for the add-on name and hitting “install.” For example, as this Sportz installation guide outlines, you have to add a specific URL as a new Kodi source, install a zip file, search for the Sportz video add-on, and then install it.
It’s a complicated process for new Kodi users. Plus, add-ons are notorious for disappearing or for overall instability. However, once you’re comfortable with Kodi, it’s easy to Google and install current Kodi add-ons that let you watch sports online for free.
If you’re a fan of European sports like soccer, rugby, volleyball, handball, or even table tennis, Laola1 is worth checking out.
Laola1 is an Austrian website that provides free global access to European sports. Live and recorded matches are available, and while Laola1 doesn’t always have HD quality, the content is free.
Like most streaming websites, Laola1 monetizes its website with ads. However, the ads are not overly intrusive, and a €4.99 (approximately $5.60 USD) per month plan is available that removes ads from streams. A premium membership also grants greater access to HD sports coverage, and you’re free to cancel at any time.
But if you don’t mind somewhat frequent commercials, the unpaid version of Laola1 is an effective way to watch European sports for free.
4. YouTube TV (Two-Week Free Trial)
If there’s one thing that’s clear about YouTube’s foray into the world of live broadcasting, it’s that it’s not kidding around.
Since its launch, YouTube TV has seen rapid growth, according to a 2020 earnings report from Alphabet, Google’s parent company. There are more than 2 million YouTube TV subscribers, and the streaming service is also moving into the world of sports.
YouTube TV grants access to live TV coverage from over 70 channels for $49.99 per month. YouTube TV Sports offers live content from the NBA, MLB, NFL, NHL, MLS, EPL, various college sports leagues, and an incredible variety of other sports and leagues.
Paying $49.99 a month isn’t exactly a cheap way to stay entertained. However, if there’s a must-see match you don’t want to miss, it’s worth taking advantage of YouTube TV’s two-week free trial.
This offer is only available in the United States and for first-time YouTube TV users. A valid payment method is required upon signup. You must cancel your free trial before 14 days have passed to avoid billing. This offer requires a Google account, and users must be 18 years or older. YouTube TV’s free trial includes all channels except for NBA League Pass.
Additionally, YouTube TV permits sharing between up to six accounts in a single household. If you live with roommates or family members who want to watch their own sports games, splitting the $49.99 per month bill makes YouTube TV one of the more affordable ways to watch online sports. Only three accounts can stream simultaneously, so keep this in mind.
Sportrar.tv is another free sports streaming platform that lets users watch live sports events across a variety of leagues. Like Reddit streams, Sportrar is a collection of streaming portals rather than an independent operation. Once you find a match to watch, Sportrar offers a number of streaming portals to try.
Sportrar’s interface is quite clunky, but the platform works. A wide variety of sports are available on Sportrar, including world-class leagues like the Premier League, NBA, NHL, and MLB.
Intrusive pop-up ads are common on Sportrar. Usually, viewers must exit out of several pop-up ads in a row to return to a normal streaming experience. However, in return for watching sports online for free, it’s a small price to pay.
The best part about Sportrar is you don’t need to create an account or add a payment method to watch sports. Sportrar is simply a collection of live streams and offers its service for free.
Like Sportrar, Stream2Watch offers a versatile range of free sports streams that covers pretty much every major sport. Additionally, Stream2Watch provides free TV streams for several hundred networks across the world.
Stream2Watch redirects users to existing, working streams; it doesn’t host the content itself. In return for this service, Stream2Watch uses pop-up ads to make money.
Stream2Watch has several versions, including stream2watch.com, stream2watch.me, and other variants. According to the company’s homepage, there are unofficial Stream2Watch clones, but legitimate Stream2Watch portals will never ask for payment or require an account to connect to streams.
Official Sports Streaming Networks
Most major networks with the rights to broadcast live sports coverage allow fans to consume their content through various mediums. Historically, cable subscriptions have been the way people watch sports content via networks like ESPN or Fox Sports, but this is changing.
Networks like ESPN and Fox Sports have opened the door for online HD sports streaming. Some popular online streaming platforms include:
- ESPN+. ESPN+ provides live sports coverage and ESPN originals for $4.99 per month.
- Fox Sports Go. Fox Sports Go is an excellent option for watching MMA, NASCAR, WWE, MLB, and college sports. It’s free to use, but you need to have login credentials for a cable subscription that has access to the same sports games you want to stream.
- NBC Sports. NBC Sports offers coverage for any sport being broadcast by NBC or NBCSN (which is quite an extensive list). As with Fox Sports Go, you must log in with a cable, satellite, telco, or live streaming TV subscription that includes NBCSN to use NBC Sports.
- CBS Sports. CBS Sports uses the same cable-verification login process as Fox Sports Go and NBC Sports to let users watch CBS sports coverage.
Obviously, paying $4.99 per month for ESPN Watch or paying for cable to use online sports streaming services defeats the goal of saving money. However, there are some loopholes savvy streamers can use to enjoy sports content for free or for significantly reduced prices.
For example, ESPN+ allows three simultaneous streams. If there’s an ESPN game you desperately want to watch, ask to share the login credentials with a friend who subscribes to ESPN+. Alternatively, offer to share the account cost with them to gain access to sports coverage.
Similarly, piggybacking off of someone else’s cable or satellite plan is an option if you want to watch online sports for free. If someone in your family is against cutting the cord, they might be willing to share their login information to enable you to stream premium sports content.
Tips for Watching Online Sports Safely
These technical tips will make the process of watching online sports for free much easier and safer, especially if you use unofficial streams.
1. Install an AdBlock Extension
Free streaming websites generally use aggressive pop-up ads to generate revenue. These ads detract from your viewing experience, and, in some instances, pose a risk to your online security.
The FTC warns that websites offering free streaming can infect your device with malware. Once installed, malware allows hackers to access your device and entire network. This grants access to sensitive information such as:
- Saved credit card login information
- Passwords on your computer or browser
- Banking information and credentials
Malware may also allow hackers to use your computer or network to commit additional crimes or siphon off resources from your bandwidth for their own use.
The simplest way to avoid clicking on a malicious pop-up ad on a free streaming website is to install an AdBlock extension. These extensions detect and stop pop-up ads, providing a better streaming experience and enhanced security.
Popular AdBlock extensions include:
These extensions are free to use, and installation only takes a minute.
2. Install a Free Antivirus Software
Installing an AdBlock extension helps protect your identity and keep you safe from malicious adware. Installing antivirus software is an effective way to detect and remove malware and protect your computer if you fall prey to a malicious stream.
Some free popular antivirus options include:
- Vipre Antivirus. Vipre is a lightweight and user-friendly antivirus software option perfect for non-tech-savvy users. It’s available for MacOS and Windows computers.
- Avast Free Antivirus. Avast is one of the most popular free antivirus software options on the market. It protects your devices in real time by scanning incoming downloads. Avast is available for Windows, MacOS, Android, and iOS devices.
- Malwarebytes. Malwarebytes is one of the best programs for scanning and removing existing malware on infected devices. This software is available on MacOS, Windows, Android, and iOS devices.
Antivirus software does not make you immune to malware. However, it greatly reduces the risk of your computer being permanently infected, and installation is simple. If you want to watch online sports for free, installing an antivirus program is a necessity.
3. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A VPN allows you to create a secure and encrypted connection to another network on the Internet. When you connect to a VPN, your Internet usage takes place on an entirely different network and IP address than your home connection.
Using a VPN to watch online sports is useful for several reasons. First, many VPN clients allow users to select country-specific IP addresses from data centers all over the world. This lets users watch local sports and circumvent georestrictions. For example, ESPN+ and NBC Sports are only available in North America and select countries, so a VPN is a must-have for foreign users in other countries.
Second, streaming sports on a different IP address helps keep your own network secure. If you’re traveling, using a VPN over public Internet or hotel Wi-Fi is an easy way to avoid having your personal data compromised.
Finally, using a VPN also cloaks your online activity from your Internet service provider (ISP). When you use a VPN, your device connects to the VPN host servers, not your own. This provides peace of mind for sports fans worried their service might be cut off for violating their ISP’s terms of service.
Popular VPNs for watching sports online include:
- ExpressVPN. This is a high-speed, secure, anonymous VPN that’s popular for streaming sports. ExpressVPN is $12.95 per month when billed monthly and $8.32 per month when billed annually.
- NordVPN. NordVPN is one of the most popular VPN providers on the market. This VPN is also a great option for watching sports content online as it offers nearly 6,000 servers in 58 countries, so you’re sure to find plenty of data centers to test out for higher speeds. NordVPN costs $11.95 per month when billed monthly, $6.99 for a yearly plan, $4.99 for a two-year plan, and $3.49 per month for a three-year commitment.
- SurfShark. This VPN provider has server locations across the world and allows for anonymous Internet usage. SurfShark is also available as a smart TV app and on Xbox and Playstation. SurfShark costs $11.95 per month when billed monthly, $5.99 per month for annual billing, and $1.99 per month for 24-month commitments.
Installing a VPN is a secure and safe way to use the Internet whether you watch online sports or not. Frequent travelers and sedentary homeowners alike should reflect on their Internet usage, especially when on public, unsecured Internet networks. If you want to improve your Internet security, purchasing an affordable yearly VPN plan is a great way to get started.
The world of online sports streaming is a volatile yet promising one. Different streaming platforms come and go, and major networks are slowly but surely adapting to the rise in on-demand streaming subscriptions. For sports fans looking to watch online sports for free, this is excellent news.
It’s important to remain up to date on current streaming and Internet usage legislation in your country. It’s also important to take steps to protect your online privacy and security, such as using a VPN and installing an antivirus program. Cutting the cord to save money is excellent, but it’s not worth jeopardizing your online security or taking a legal risk.
Save money with online sports streaming when you can. Hopefully, the next time the big game rolls around, you’ll watch from the comfort of your own home without spending a dime.