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The 5 best sports streaming services: Watch your team online

What is the best sports streaming service? ESPN+ is ZDNet's top choice. Tired of missing your favorite team's game because it's not being televised nationally? We got you covered. Finding a platform where you can watch the most sports for the lowest price is tough. By comparing the applications by accessibility, simplicity, and value, ZDNet was able to find the best platforms in various categories.
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Written by Josh Slate, Copywriter Intern on
Reviewed by Elyse Betters Picaro

It's well-known that not every sporting event is aired on national television. But with many sports leagues converting to the streaming world, there are plenty of sports streaming platforms to explore so that you can hopefully watch your team's next game online.

The following five platforms are the best sports streaming services for the following categories: The best app overall, best value, best for the household, best for American football fanatics, and best for streaming junkies. There is truly something for everyone.

espn-plus-logo
ESPN

Features:

  • Available through the ESPN app, Playstation, Xbox and more
  • Viewers are able to watch live events in the NFL, NHL, MLB, UFC, a multitude of soccer leagues and college sports 
  • Ability to watch on up to three devices simultaneously 

Whether you are casual or a die-hard sports fan, ESPN+ is the perfect streaming platform. With 15 different sports available for live streaming, sports fanatics will be able to stay up-to-date in the world of athletics. Additionally, the platform also creates originals, including shows like Peyton's Places, Man in the Arena: Tom Brady and 30 for 30. With a monthly rate of only $6.99, or $69.99 for the year, ESPN+ is our top pick.

Pros:

  • Monthly payments available
  • Under $7/mo
  • Access to ESPN+ originals and exclusive articles are included in the subscription

Cons:

  • Does not include access to the ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNews cable networks
  • Limited NFL and NBA content
  • Unorganized home page
FloSports
FloSports

Features:

  • Broadcasts over 200,000 live sporting events throughout the year
  • Over 25 different sports, including baseball, basketball, and football
  • All events are available on-demand

FloSports sets itself apart from the competition in terms of the number of live events. But, the quality of the event is where they lack. Although recent partnerships with NASCAR and the Colonial Athletic Association have been established, the heavy-hitting teams tend to be broadcasted on a more popular platform. That being said, the abundance of sporting-event viewers will be able to watch outnumber most all streaming platforms out there. If you're a diehard sports fan, FloSports give you the most value for your subscription.

Pros:

  • All streams are uploaded to be viewed on-demand
  • The website is easy to navigate
  • Great for fans getting into sports, especially motorsports and college basketball

Cons:

  • Most subscriptions are only available in yearly payments
  • Not many major teams will be featured in a FloSports broadcast
  • Only able to stream on one device at a time
YouTube TV
By Funstock shutterstock

Features:

  • Includes over 70 channels from ABC, CBS and FOX to ESPN and FS1 in the basic package
  • NFL Network, NBA TV and MLB Network are all included for sports fans
  • Access to live player stats and highlights while watching YouTube TV on the mobile app
  • DVR storage is unlimited

YouTube TV ranks as the best household sports streaming service on ZDNet because of the versatility to not only get access to the major sports channels but the amount of live channels provided, along with their unlimited DVR capability. While this isn't the best option for sports-related content, YouTube TV is perfect for families and has enough channels to please those of all ages. But, YouTube TV offers upgradable packages, including the Sports Plus package for an additional $11/mo.

Pros:

  • Unlimited DVR space
  • Plenty of additional channel packages available
  • Ability to stream on three devices simultaneously

Cons:

  • It starts at $65/mo
  • The layout is hard to navigate for new users
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Features:

  • Allows fans to view every out-of-market live NFL game
  • Provides access to NFL RedZone and highlights from every game

If you are a fantasy football player, there's no doubt you probably have heard about NFL Sunday Ticket. This platform allows fans to watch any out-of-market game live. Though NFL Sunday Ticket is a powerful streaming site, the price tag attached to it is also quite powerful at just over $293 per NFL season.

As someone who has used this platform, I think it is 100% worth the price and look forward to using it as the next NFL season approaches.

Pros:

  • Almost 200 live football games in high-definition on TV or a streaming device
  • Access to NFL RedZone
  • Ability to jump from game-to-game with no commercials

Cons:

  • Very expensive
  • Doesn't have access to games within your market
  • Can only stream on one device at a time
Hulu Live TV with Sports
By AFM Visuals shutterstock

Features:

  • Access to all Hulu content, including a subscription to both Disney+ and ESPN+
  • Sports package available for upgrade for an additional $9.99/mo
  • 10+ sports-specific channels included in base package
  • Ability to stream on up to two devices simultaneously

While Hulu Live TV is a direct rival to YoutubeTV, they both have their pros and cons. Hulu with Live TV grants subscribers with both Disney+ and ESPN+, making this a must-have for people who have cut the cord from cable. 

Much like FloSports, Hulu has prioritized quantity over quality, leaving me to rank YoutubeTV as the best streaming replacement for cable and for YouTubeTV's spot as the best household sports streaming platform.

Pros:

  • Upgrades available to have no ads when streaming Hulu on-demand content
  • Access to ESPN+ and Disney+ included in base subscription

Cons:

  • Not as many channels as YouTubeTV if using as a replacement for cable
  • Has limited DVR space

What is the best sports streaming app?

ESPN+ is the easy pick if you're looking for a streaming service that gets you closest to your favorite sport. Along with the long list of professional sports leagues they cover, the NCAA is a major partner of the platform. As someone who loves "mid-major" college basketball, this subscription gives me all the college basketball I could ever ask for during the winter months.

To help you make the decision on which platform you want, here are a couple of quick facts about each service.

Sports streaming app

Price

Device Limit

American Sports League Partners

ESPN+

$6.99/mo or $69.99/yr

3

NFL, NHL, MLB, MLS, PGA, UFC

FloSports

$150/yr

1

NASCAR

YouTubeTV

$64.99/mo

3

NFL

NFL Sunday Ticket

$73.49/mo or $293.96/yr

1

NFL

Hulu with Live TV

$69.99/mo

2

N/A

Which is the right sports streaming service for you?

Choose this sports streaming app…

If you are…

ESPN+

A supporter of a professional team 

FloSports

A fan of a large variety of athletic events

YouTubeTV

Looking for a cable alternative that is perfect for the whole family

NFL Sunday Ticket

A hardcore fan of American football

Hulu with Live TV

Someone who wants more options than just sports

How did we choose these sports streaming services?

When deciding which sports streaming service was the best overall, it was easy to decide that ESPN+ was the top choice. Not only is the platform backed by the biggest sports broadcasting group, it's partnerships with an abundance of professional sports leagues set it apart from the competition.

Ultimately, you want to get the most amount of sports per dollar spent; FloSports gives you that. With the platform having various 24/7 shows, viewers are able to keep up with their favorite sport no matter the time.

Sometimes, the casual sports fan wants more than just athletics 24/7. If that's the case, YouTubeTV is the right choice. The sports package is an add-on, but this platform allows you to stream the in-market games, and YouTubeTV gives you access to WatchESPN and the ability to watch on your mobile device.

NFL Sunday Ticket is an outlier in the sports streaming industry because of the focus on just one sports league. The hefty price tag is the one variable that pushes potential subscribers away, but due to the popularity of American football, the $293 yearly subscription is worth every penny.

Lastly, Hulu with Live TV is similar to YouTubeTV but presents much more streaming opportunities with ESPN+ and Disney+ included in the $69.99/mo subscription.

What is the best college basketball streaming app?

ESPN+ is perfect for college basketball fans, especially those "mid-major" teams. You can stream over 2,000 college basketball games per season with ESPN+.

Can I watch ESPN on ESPN+?

No. An ESPN+ subscription does not grant access to the network ESPN.

Can I get an NFL Sunday Ticket without DIRECTV?

Yes, but there are certain requirements. You must either be currently enrolled in college, live in select cities or reside in an area that does not have access to DIRECTV.

Are there alternative sports streaming services worth considering?

With so many sports streaming platforms out there, it was hard to consolidate them into one list. Here are a few honorable mentions and great choices when looking at other alternatives:

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