There’s nothing quite as thrilling as watching the winning shot of a live game or experiencing groundbreaking news as it’s happening. And if you’re already paying an Internet Service Provider (ISP) for an Internet connection, you may be able to stream some of those thrilling live TV moments to any Wi-Fi enabled device.
If you want to watch live TV online, you’ve actually got a few options. However, the method won’t be the same across the board — it depends on the show, the channel, and even your Internet connection. Here’s our roundup of how to stream live TV over the Internet whenever — and wherever — you want.
Sports Channel Subscriptions
Sports fans can pay for a short-term online subscription to favorite sports league games. The MLB, NBA, and NHL all offer packages for viewers to watch live games online. MLB.tv offers streaming of live games, spring training, and archived games. NBA League Pass offers the most customizable selection, including access to a single team, a single game, or just audio streams. And NHL Game Center features extra camera angles and DVR controls. All three leagues, though, have out-of-market restrictions, meaning local, home team games are blacked out — though most of these services still make live audio streams available.
Options for the NFL are among the most limited. The NFL Game Pass includes live game radio broadcasts and playoff games, but live video streams are not available.
Online News Broadcasts
A recent comScore survey found that live news was important to the TV viewing habits of 58 percent of pay TV subscribers and 46 percent of non-pay TV subscribers, making it one of the biggest drivers of TV consumption. While many major news networks require a cable subscription to access live news programs, several media brands offer live streaming for free. With a good ISP, you can watch MSNBC, Bloomberg, CBS News, NewsMaxTV, and HuffPost Live from your computer or smart device. Check your local stations, too. ABC 7 in San Francisco and Fox 5 in New York, for example, offer their news shows streaming during airtime.
Streaming sites like Livestream, Ustream, and YouTube have emerged as popular ways to watch live programming for free, be it a concert, sports event, or entertainment program. Selection and quality of content varies widely. Livestream hosts the BBC and TED Talks channels, UStream hosts the International Space Station and PBS NewsHour channels, and YouTube broadcasts notable political events like presidential debates and speeches.
Cable Online Services
New in 2015, online cable services are changing the cable game. The DISH® subsidiary service Sling TV, for example, combines traditional TV with online streaming, allowing subscribers to start with a basic 20 cable TV channel package, with the option to add more channels for an additional fee. XFINITY® Stream TV offers a similar service, offering local and premium channels to XFINITY Internet subscribers in select areas. Unlike traditional cable, these services require no equipment. Though your options are limited — the initial channel selection is small — these are affordable streaming options. Sling TV starts at a low price of $20 per month, while XFINITY Stream TV starts at $15 per month for XFINITY Internet subscribers.
TV Aggregator Sites
Although no TV aggregator site is perfect, many of them are great for watching a variety of shows and movies from around the globe. While quality is low, content variety is high. Try watching live shows through sites like Live TV Cafe, Live TV Center, and World Wide Internet TV, which are free with the creation of an account.
On Demand Subscription
Watch streaming media of popular television shows through on-demand subscription providers Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, or HBO Go. Most of these services have their own set of critically acclaimed series only available through a subscription: Netflix features the popular shows “Orange is the New Black” and “House of Cards”; Amazon Prime hosts “Transparent” and “Alpha House”; HBO Go is known for “Game of Thrones” and “Girls.” Hulu hosts the most prime time content of any of the on-demand services, though network shows are usually available a day after the initial air date.
Internet and TV Bundles
If you haven’t been able to find your show through any of the other options on this list, consider paying for a bundled cable package. Many ISPs also sell cable television service in bundles, and depending on your Internet and TV bundle provider, many of the same movies and TV channels included in your cable subscription are available for streaming on supported smart devices, too. Using your cable TV login, you can stream your favorite TV shows on your laptop, tablet, or phone. Which channels are available to you online depends on your cable provider and package selection. How-To Geek gives a breakdown of the streaming channels available for each major cable provider.
In 2016, you’re no longer stuck to your couch to watch your favorite TV shows. The Internet gives you the flexibility to stream TV shows and movies from anywhere. Now that you’ve got our guide to viewing TV online, the only thing you need is a good Internet connection. For the best streaming experience, consider upgrading your current Internet package, or bundle cable television with your Internet subscription.
*Pricing and speeds are current as of writing. Pricing and speeds are subject to change. Not all offers available in all areas.