As I watched the Ohio State Buckeyes face the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl, I realized that none of the top-four bowl games have been broadcast on television in the last five years. ESPN has a stranglehold on them, and that brings to light one big reason many can’t cut the cord by moving to live streaming sports.
In fact, this isn’t a new trend. My other favorite sport, NASCAR Sprint Cup stock car racing, 21 out of the 36 races are on cable tv; the rest are split between FOX and NBC, and they usually are the more watched races. Oh and the cable channels in use are Fox Sports 1 and NBC Sports Network, which are both owned by their broadcast partners. With the majority of races on a cable network, you need to have cable to watch the races. What about streaming? Well, there IS no streaming package that includes all of the races, and the ones you can stream usually have a check to see if you have cable. The closest you come to live streaming sports is NASCAR’s Race Buddy, which is just additional coverage and not the traditional broadcast coverage.
What about other sports? Major League Baseball does have live streaming, but it too requires you to authenticate that you are a cable subscriber. The NHL is a little better in that you can watch games by paying $99.95 for NHL Gamecenter, but these are usually out of market games. If I wanted to watch the Columbus Blue Jackets online, for example, I might not be able to when they play at home. The NFL is the same as the NHL, but you also have to have DirectTV.
What this all boils down to is the only way to watch the sports you want legally is to use Cable TV for many. One big reason for this is money; the other is that the major sports organizations probably don’t want to have unhappy fans because of an issue they can’t control — the internet. If they offered a stream-only package and the providers couldn’t accommodate live streaming sports because of local internet providers, well I’d imagine that would not look good for them.
One final note: I know there are OTHER sources for live streaming sports, but those have legal issues involved, and I wouldn’t recommend them to any of our readers.