Best sports streaming service for 2022 – CNET

Streaming services are great for TV and movie lovers, but can be tricky for sports fans looking to watch their favorite team or league. Unlike other forms of entertainment, sporting events are made to be watched live. This means that in many cases live TV streaming services, like DirecTV Stream and YouTube TV, tend to offer the most channels for sports lovers. 

Unfortunately, many sports fans will need access to their local regional sports networks, or RSNs, for access to their home team’s games. For example, local Bruins and Red Sox fans will need NESN in order to catch the majority of their games, even if they subscribe to a league-sponsored sport-specific package like MLB TV, which does not cover in-market games.  

Because of rights agreements, most live TV streaming services don’t carry many RSNs. DirecTV Stream is the exception. It has nearly every RSN, particularly the Bally Sports channels (formerly Fox Sports) offered by Sinclair, but the company just increased its prices, and you’ll need to spring for its now $90-a-month plan to access them.

Depending on your location, die-hard fans of the local teams might ultimately save more money by getting a cable subscription, which tends to come bundled with your RSNs along with ESPN, TBS, TNT, as well as your local network channels. This could make sense especially if the package is bundled with the home internet you’ll likely be getting anyway. 

If you are a determined cord-cutter or know that you only need one a few channels to get your sports fix, here are the best streaming services on the market for sports lovers.

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DirecTV Stream is expensive. It’s the priciest of the five major live TV streaming services, but it’s also the one with the most RSNs and offers the most for sports fanatics. Its cheapest, $70-a-month Plus package includes the major networks as well as ESPN, TNT, FS1 and TBS. You’ll need to move up to the $90-a-month Choice plan to get any available RSN and many league channels such as the Big Ten network and NBA TV. You can use its channel lookup tool to see which local channels and RSNs are available in your area. 

Read our DirecTV Stream review.

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ESPN’s stand-alone streaming service is great for casual sports fans and is a must-have accessory for the zealots. It costs $7 a month or $70 a year and shows all out-of-market games NHL hockey and MLS soccer games. 

It is also heavily invested in global soccer, hosting LaLiga games from Spain and Germany’s Bundesliga. ESPN Plus is also the home of some English soccer: the FA Cup, the Carabao Cup and the Community Shield, along with the EFL Championship — which is the league below the Premier League. 

ESPN Plus doesn’t show any live NBA basketball or NFL football games, but it does offer coverage of Wimbledon and the US Open. During the MLB baseball season, the service carries select out-of-market Major League baseball games as well as unlocking the MLB Archives of classic games. It also offers some NCAA football and basketball, as well as the Little League World Series for fans looking to watch up-and-coming athletes. Some UFC matches are included as part of the subscription, but it’s also where pay-per-view matches will live, usually for an extra fee.

The service is also home to exclusive shows, such as Peyton’s Places starring Peyton Manning, and the vast 30 for 30 library. As an added bonus, the subscription removes the paywall on the ESPN website, giving you access to all online articles and reporting.

There’s something here for most sports aficionados and is almost a necessity for hard-core hockey, soccer and UFC fans.

Read our ESPN Plus review.

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FuboTV costs $65 per month and offers 12 RSNs. It also includes ESPN, but not TBS and TNT — which might be a problem for some sports fans. It also has most of your local networks like ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX, along with FS1, FS2, Bein Sports, the Big 10 and the Golf channel. 

You’ll have to pay an extra $7 a month for the Fubo Extra Package or pay for the $80-a-month Elite streaming tier that includes Fubo Extra for the NHL, NBA, MLB, SEC, PAC 12 or Tennis channels. Check out which local networks and RSNs FuboTV offers here.

Read our FuboTV review.

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YouTube TV costs $65 a month and offers four RSNs, along with FS1, FS2, ESPN, TBS, TNT and all of the major national networks. The standard package includes just about every league channel with the exception of the NHL Network. There is an additional Sports Plus package, but it doesn’t offer much other than Bein and NFL Red Zone, so you might be able to skip it. Plug in your ZIP code on its welcome page to see which local networks and RSNs are available in your area.

Read our YouTube TV review.


Peacock, owned by NBC, offers some live sports to go along with their on-demand entertainment. The a $5-a-month tier gives users access to Premier League Soccer, the Olympics, the Super Bowl, select WWE events, Indy Car races, some PGA golf tournaments. The service also airs a few other less popular sports, such as rugby, figure skating, track and field and cycling. Since the Super Bowl only happens once a year, and the Olympics every two, the platform is best suited long-term for Premier League Soccer and WWE fans. 

Read our Peacock review .


Hulu Plus Live TV might be viewed as an option for the more casual sports fan. It costs $70 a month and carries four RSNs along with all the major networks plus ESPN, TBS, TNT, FS1, and FS2. It does come with the NFL network, but even the Sports add-on lacks the MLB, NHL, NBA, or Tennis channels. The biggest appeal of the add-on is the inclusion of NFL Red Zone. Otherwise, it doesn’t bring much value to the package. Click the “View all channels in your area” link at the bottom of its welcome page to see which local networks and RSNs are available where you live.

Read our Hulu Plus Live TV review.

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The Sling TV packages don’t have a ton to offer anything but the most casual fan. Sling Blue currently lacks a single RSN, but you can use it to watch some national broadcasts. Sling TV’s Orange plan includes ESPN, while the Blue plan has FS1 and the NFL network. While both plans offer TBS, none of them gives you access to ABC, which could be a problem for many fans. The Sports Extra add-on, which costs $11 a month for either the Blue or Orange plan or $15 for the combined Orange-and-Blue plan, offers the NBA, NHL, MLB channels along with the PAC 12, Bein and Tennis channel, among others. The individual plans cost $35 a month each, and the Orange-and-Blue plan costs $50 a month. You can see which local channels you get here.

Read our Sling TV review.

Sports streaming services FAQ

Don’t some on-demand streaming services show live sports too?

Yes! Hulu, Amazon Prime and Paramount Plus all air lives sports once in a while. 

Paramount Plus, a CBS company, gives their $5-a-month Essential users AFC football games during the NFL season along with some UEFA Champions league matches, though they don’t have full access to their local CBS station. Paramount Plus is also home to the NWSL women’s soccer league.  

Hulu has started streaming select NHL hockey games on its regular service, while Amazon Prime has partnered with the NFL to stream some Thursday night football games. 

While these services do offer some sports offerings, they focus mainly on on-demand entertainment. This might change in the future, but right now they don’t offer too much specifically for sports fan. 

Is there any lag or delay when streaming sports live compared to cable?

Unfortunately, there is. The streaming delay is often as long as 40 seconds, compared to around 5 seconds for cable and satellite. 

This might be particularly worrisome for those with Twitter, group chats and phone push notifications, where a delay of this size can lead to spoilers of big plays. It could also potentially make it difficult for sports betters to get in on the action. If you plan on legally betting, it might be a good idea watch your game via cable or satellite. 

Turning off your phone’s notifications and staying away from Twitter will let you stream your games without spoilers. Sure, your friends might try to call and text to brag about the score, but you can always choose to ignore them while you watch. 

Can I cancel my subscriptions when the season is over?

Yes! All of these services are free of contracts and you can cancel at any time. Some offer free trials or special introductory discount memberships, which you will only get to use once. If you cancel and return at a later date, you will most likely have to pay full price. That said, you might not need a particular service year-round, which might make temporary cancellation an appealing way to save a few bucks. 

How do I access these services on my devices?

All of the services on this list have apps that you can download. You will need a smart TV or a streaming device to watch the content on your TV. Just search for the name of the service on your smart TV or device, download the app to your TV, enter your sign-in information, and you are ready to stream.

You can also download the apps of these services to your phone, iPad or Android device for streaming on-the-go or around the house. 

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