Before cable was even a household phenomenon, ESPN was launched. And as cable grew in popularity, straight to ubiquity, ESPN grew with it. It’s a primary reason why many fans are afraid to cut cable–they might miss out on the ESPN live stream and important sports coverage. Thankfully, that fear is no longer necessary, as it’s quite possible (and quite easy) to watch ESPN online.
Sports have always been difficult to replicate without cable. And it keeps a lot of unsatisfied cable customers connected. But times are changing again, and you can watch ESPN online without cable in 2019. Here’s how.
How to watch your favorite sports with a VPN
Want to watch your favorite sports wherever you are and avoid network blackouts? Take it from us and get a Virtual Private Network (VPN) in addition to your live streaming service. Using a VPN is secure because it encrypts your personal data from hackers. It also masks your home’s exact location, meaning you can watch whoever you’re rooting for even if you’re out of market.
Pro tip: NordVPN is one of the most trusted and secure VPN services out there, with plans starting at less than $6/mo.
Get the ESPN Live Stream and On-Demand Shows with Hulu Live
Enjoy 60+ great channels live, plus a massive on-demand library
Hulu Live is a rapidly growing streaming service that provides a great alternative to cable TV. It’s also one of the easiest ways to watch ESPN online. The service gives you access to over 60 channels to stream live, whenever and wherever you want. Plus, subscribers get access to a massive on-demand library of TV shows, movies, Hulu Originals, and much more! The cost is just $45 a month, and there’s no contract or commitment. Hulu Live also has excellent coverage of local channels like FOX, CBS and NBC, which are important for live sports.
The Ideal Combo of Live & On-Demand Entertainment
Hulu Live provides the best of both worlds – a “cable-like” package of channels to watch live, and a “Netflix-like” package of on-demand content to watch at any time. While most services offer one or the other, Hulu combines both into a very affordable package. Hulu lets you watch ESPN online live, as well as networks like FOX News, CNN, FX, HGTV, and regional channels like NBC, FOX and more. And while the live selection of channels is a big selling point, the on-demand library complements that perfectly, ensuring you always have something to watch!
Here are the basics of Hulu Live:
- Costs just $55 a month – and there’s no contract
- Includes more than 60 channels you can watch LIVE
- Includes a HUGE on-demand library of TV shows, movies and more
- It works on most devices, from streaming players (Roku, Apple TV, etc.) to mobile devices and computers
- You can stream on 2 devices simultaneously
- You can add on premium channels like Showtime and HBO for an additional fee
- There’s a cloud DVR included so you can record live TV
- You can try Hulu Live FREE for a week
Watch ESPN Online Cheap with Sling TV
Sling is an ultra-affordable option with al-la-carte channel selection
Sling TV is among the most affordable streaming services, with prices from only $30 a month. Sling has a smaller basic package of channels (around 30+ in Sling Orange), but offers ample opportunities to expand your selection with channel packs, which cost as little as $5 a month. This gives you a lot more flexibility in the channels you are paying for, instead of being forced to pay for a bunch of networks you’ll never watch. And, of course, Sling TV offers ESPN streaming for all you sports fans!
A Budget-Friendly Streaming Service
Some streaming services can quickly become almost as expensive as cable. If you’re looking for a lean and affordable package of basic channels, Sling is a great choice. And although it’s smaller than some competitors, Sling’s basic package has many of the most popular channels, including ESPN, ESPN2, Disney, AMC, CNN, Comedy Central and much more.
Here are the basics of Sling TV:
- Only $30 a month – the cheapest option to stream ESPN online (current special: $15 for the first month!)
- No contract or commitment
- Tons of add-on channel packages available to expand your selection
- Extensive on-demand library
- Works on most devices, from mobile phones to streaming players
- Get the ESPN live stream free online for a week with Sling’s free 7-day trial
For those who want to learn more, our Sling TV review has all the details you need.
If you’re anxious to get started, click here to try Sling TV free for 7 days!
Watch ESPN Without Cable via YouTube TV
A new service that’s rapidly growing
YouTube TV is a newcomer to the streaming world, but it’s growing quickly. It’s backed by YouTube, which is owned by Google. The tech giant has invested significant amounts of resources in developing YouTube TV into a premium cable alternative. It’s a good way to watch ESPN online, and to keep up with 70+ other great channels. It costs $50 a month, with no contract.
A Wide Selection and Slick Features
YouTube TV has a lot to offer. 70+ channels are included, and in many areas regional networks like FOX, CBS and NBC are offered. This is great news for sports fans, as having access to these local networks is almost as important as the ESPN live stream!
Here are the basics of YouTube TV:
- $50 a month
- No contract or hidden fees
- Covers 70+ channels including news, entertainment, sports and more
- Good access to regional networks like NBC and FOX
- Missing a few popular entertainment networks
- Works on most devices
- Want to stream ESPN online free for a week? Try YouTube TV free for 7 days!
What About ESPN+? Does ESPN+ Carry the ESPN Live Stream?
You may have heard of ESPN+, a newly launched service from ESPN itself that offers a sports streaming alternative for cord-cutters. It costs $4.99 a month, and does not require a cable subscription. But is having ESPN+ the same as having access to ESPN streaming?
Unfortunately, no. ESPN+ is a cool service, but it’s NOT an ESPN live stream. In fact, anything that airs on ESPN on TV will NOT air on ESPN+.
Instead, ESPN+ is designed to provide supplemental coverage of sports to fans who want even more than what is offered on ESPN’s TV networks.
So, what does ESPN+ offer, then?
ESPN+ covers select games from leagues like MLS, US Open Tennis, MLB, UEFA Nations League Soccer, and more. “Select games” is a bit vague, but here it REALLY depends on the sport. Some sports are very limited – for instance, you’ll only get one random MLB game per day. But others have extensive coverage – ESPN+ will host hundreds of MLS games per season, for instance.
In addition to live coverage, ESPN+ also has some on-demand content, like the original ESPN 30 for 30 series.
We recommend checking out our ESPN+ review for more details about the service.
You can also go ahead and sign up for a free trial, which will last 7 days.
What About the WatchESPN App?
There’s an app and website direct from ESPN called WatchESPN. Can you use it to watch ESPN without cable?
Unfortunately, WatchESPN won’t do you much good if you don’t have a cable subscription, or a subscription to one of the services discussed above. When you go to watch something, you’ll see this popup box:
Before gaining access to content on WatchESPN, you’ll have to sign in to your cable provider’s account – or your account with Sling TV, Hulu etc. If you don’t have one of these services, you won’t be able to watch anything except for a few highlight reals, news stories, etc.
What About Other ESPN Channels? ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPNU, etc.
This article is primarily about how to watch ESPN without cable. That said, ESPN actually has many channels beyond the flagship ESPN network. How do you watch these?
Many of our top recommendations in the guide above carry many of these channels. For instance, Hulu with Live TV carries ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3 (via WatchESPN app), ESPNU, ESPN College Extra, ESPN Bases Loaded, ESPN Goal Line, and SEC Network in its base package.
That said, options for each ESPN channel do differ somewhat, so we have dedicated guides for each channel. Check them out below:
Frequently Asked Questions About Watching ESPN Without Cable
Can You Watch ESPN Online Free?
For a short time, yes. All the streaming options above offer free trials, usually for 7 days. For instance, you can use the Hulu Live free 7 day free trial to stream ESPN online free for a week.
However, there is no real way to watch ESPN for free long-term. You can watch some highlight clips, read news stories, etc. on ESPN.com, but you’ll have to pay up if you want the real ESPN live stream.
What’s the Cheapest Way to Watch ESPN Online?
Currently, the most affordable streaming service that offers the ESPN live stream is Sling TV. It costs $25 a month for “Sling Orange”, the package that includes ESPN and 30+ other channels. Sling offers a free 7 day trial.
Can You Watch ESPN on Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, or Chromecast?
When you quit cable, you’ll need some sort of streaming player in order to access streaming services. Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV are some of the most popular. Can you watch ESPN on these devices?
In general, yes. Device availability varies depending on the service you choose, but if you go with one of our recommendations, all the popular devices are generally covered. For instance, Hulu with Live TV lets you watch ESPN on Chromecast, Roku, Apple TV and many more. You can confirm device availability during the signup process.
Can I Watch ESPN on Amazon Prime?
At this point, no – it is not possible to stream ESPN on Amazon Prime. Amazon Prime Channels do cover some popular content, but ESPN is not an option at this time.
Can I Purchase a Subscription to Watch ESPN?
What Sports Can You Watch on ESPN?
ESPN is the worldwide leader in sports, and broadcasts a HUGE range of live sports programming. Just a small sampling of what you can watch on ESPN includes:
- College Football
- Stream NFL Games (including Monday Night Football & NFL Playoffs)
- NBA on ESPN
- NBA Playoffs
- Major League Baseball
- Live Tennis
And a whole lot more! ESPN is absolutely essential for watching sports online, regardless of what teams and leagues you like to follow.
Do you have questions about how to watch ESPN without cable TV? Let us know in the comments and we’ll be happy to help!