How to watch ESPN without cable

the ESPN logo is on a laptop open on a bed
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ESPN is synonymous with cable. But as cord-cutting grows, sports fans still want to watch ESPN without a cable subscription. Fortunately, we've found multiple ways to keep ESPN in your life, including using some of the best streaming services.

ESPN is known for its around-the-clock coverage via its famous SportsCenter show but it's more than just the news. Depending on the season, you can have any number of live sports games (including NFL live streams), lively debate shows like Around the Horn and Pardon The Interruption, and much more.

Annoyingly, ESPN Plus is not one of the options for watching ESPN without cable. While some games are simulcast on ESPN and ESPN Plus, for the most part, ESPN's streaming service is a big minus when it comes to watching actual ESPN. The likely culprit is this is because ESPN relies on revenue called carriage fees, which are what cable and cable alternatives pay ESPN to offer the channel to customers. If ESPN offered its channels through ESPN Plus, these providers wouldn't be so willing to pay these lucrative carriage fees.

So, without further ado, here's everything you need to watch ESPN without cable.

How to watch ESPN without cable in the U.S.

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ESPN is available on all of the best cable TV alternatives, but one of them (our favorite, actually) doesn't put ESPN in all of its packages.

Our favorite? Well, that would be Sling TV, which has the lowest starting price of any service we recommend. But Sling only offers ESPN, ESPN 2 and ESPN 3 through its Sling Orange package (sorry, Sling Blue subscribers). For more information on the differences between Sling's two packages — and why it may be worth getting both for a discounted bundle rate — check out our Sling Orange vs. Blue comparison. Sling TV starts at $40 per month but they often offer a deal that gives you the first month 50% off.

The other live TV streaming service we recommend for cord-cutters trying to watch ESPN without cable is Fubo. Not only does it let you watch ESPN, as well as multiple channels at the same time, but it's brilliant for international sports. That said, Fubo doesn't have TNT, which might be a deal breaker for NBA fans.

That's why the Sling Orange plan is appealing to sports fans looking for a cable alternative. ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN 3 and TNT are all included in Sling Orange. That makes Sling a perfect place to watch all of the NBA playoffs, as ABC games will simulcast on ESPN3. You can even add on the Sports Extra pack and get NBA TV.

Sling and Fubo both make the cut on our shortlist of the best streaming services, but we ultimately recommend Sling here even though it doesn't have ABC (though you can get it with one of the best TV antennas), since those games will be available on ESPN3.

Sling TV:

Sling TV: Sling TV Orage gets you ESPN and TNT for just $40 a month. Plus, you get 30-plus other channels including AMC, CNN, Food Network, AMC, Comedy Central, HGTV and many more. Sling usually offers a great deal for new subscribers, such as 50% off the first month.

Fubo:a 7-day free trial

Fubo: Fubo has all of the right network channels and the two cable channels you don't want to go without. Who needs cable? Not Fubo subscribers. It may not have TNT, which is a bummer, but it's got just about everything else. Plus, it's also got a 7-day free trial so you don't need to pay upfront.

What about ESPN Plus?

As we previously mentioned, annoyingly, ESPN doesn't offer its TV network channels on its streaming service ESPN Plus. Ironically, that feels more like ESPN Minus, but I digress ...

Don't believe me? Here's what it says on ESPN's own site: "An ESPN+ subscription does not give you access to stream ESPN’s traditional TV networks or the content on them. To stream those networks, you need a television subscription through a cable, satellite or digital provider."

This doesn't mean ESPN Plus has nothing. You get a decent amount of content for $6.99 per month, including live NHL, NCAA college basketball, PGA Tour golf, La Liga and Bundesliga football/soccer and Formula 1 races. UFC and Top Rank boxing are also on ESPN Plus, though you'll need to spend extra for the UFC fights.

How to watch all the ESPN channels online

Curious to see how the major cable alternatives compare when it comes to watching ESPN without cable? Here's a breakdown of who offers what and how much it costs.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Sling TVFuboYouTube TVHulu + Live TV
ESPNYes (Orange)YesYesYes
ESPN2Yes (Orange)YesYesYes
ESPN3Yes (Orange)YesYesYes
ESPNEWSSports Extra ($11 per month)Fubo Extra ($8 per month)YesYes
ESPN DeportesNoInternational Sports Plus ($7 per month)NoEspañol Add-on ($5 per month)
ESPNUSports Extra ($11 per month)Fubo Extra ($8 per month)YesYes
Price$40 a month (Sling Orange)$74.99 a month$72.99 a month$76.99 a month (Includes ESPN Plus)

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Malcolm McMillan
Senior Streaming Writer

Malcolm McMillan is a senior writer for Tom's Guide, covering all the latest in streaming TV shows and movies. That means news, analysis, recommendations, reviews and more for just about anything you can watch, including sports! If it can be seen on a screen, he can write about it. Previously, Malcolm had been a staff writer for Tom's Guide for over a year, with a focus on artificial intelligence (AI), A/V tech and VR headsets.

Before writing for Tom's Guide, Malcolm worked as a fantasy football analyst writing for several sites and also had a brief stint working for Microsoft selling laptops, Xbox products and even the ill-fated Windows phone. He is passionate about video games and sports, though both cause him to yell at the TV frequently. He proudly sports many tattoos, including an Arsenal tattoo, in honor of the team that causes him to yell at the TV the most.

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