5 Quick Ways to Watch ESPN Without Cable

Explore the best ways to watch ESPN without cable or satellite. Our comprehensive comparison of prices and plans helps you find the most cost-effective and convenient options to enjoy your favorite sports on ESPN, hassle-free.

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You can watch ESPN without cable on five live TV streaming services.

Sling TV, YouTube TV, Fubo, Hulu Live TV, DIRECTV STREAM, and the Spectrum TV app all have the live ESPN channel without the need of a cable or satellite subscription. There are 13 plans that carry ESPN within those live TV streaming services.

I have subscribed to all of these streaming services and will rate each one for strictly for streaming ESPN without a cable subscription.

You can also watch some live ESPN simulcasts through an ESPN+ subscription. And you can activate the ESPN app with a pay TV provider to watch live sports on a Windows PC, Mac computer, smartphone or tablet.

Savvy cord-cutters know that network TV broadcasts on ABC at times simulcasts some professional sports from ESPN. You can watch ABC for free if you use a TV antenna.

This article covers all the ways to watch ESPN without cable or a satellite service.

ESPN has been entertaining sports fans since 1978. But today it’s far from its days of being exclusive to cable TV and satellite packages.

How to Watch ESPN

All you need to start streaming ESPN live is an internet connection, a streaming device or Smart TV.

Whether you opt for the affordability of Sling TV, the all-inclusive package of YouTube TV, or the sports-centric experience of fubo, you’ll find a solution that suits your needs. 

A Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Fire Stick or Apple TV will do the job. Smart TVs by Samsung, Sony Bravia and LG support most live TV services. Game consoles including XBox and PlayStation support watching live TV.

If you are a sports fan in search of your ideal streaming service that has ESPN, chances are you want other sports channels too.

ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN3, ACC Network (ACCN), Big Ten Network, CBS Sports Network, SEC Network, NBA TV, Longhorn Network, MLB Network, ESPNews and ESPN Deportes cover NFL, MLB games and other professional and college sports.

You can get many of these networks without having to pay for an sports add-on package.

Local channels will matter, too. You may want ESPN for Monday Night Football during the NFL season. But you will need local broadcast networks such as ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX to watch your favorite sports team.

I’ll be sure to mention whether the streaming platforms below carry those channels.

Some of these services have a free trial that lasts a week without any obligation. Just remember to cancel before the trial ends if you decide that the streaming service isn’t for you.

Sling TV

Orange$40/month32 (No locals)
Blue$40/month40 (Locals included)
Orange + Blue$55/month88
Device support: AirTV Mini, Amazon Echo Show, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast along with Smart TVs from LG, Samsung, Sony Bravia and VIZIO SmartCast.

Sling TV is the cheapest option to watch ESPN live. You have two ways to watch ESPN without cable through Sling TV.

The Sling TV Orange plan includes 32 channels, including ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS and entertainment networks like AMC, A&E and History. A subscription to Sling Orange costs $40 per month.

The Sling TV Blue plan has 40 channels, including Discovery, NFL Network, FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports 2, and Stadium, but doesn’t include ESPN. You can combine the Sling Blue with Sling Orange for $55 per month.

All subscribers get 50 hours of Cloud DVR storage.

Sling TV works on just about any streaming device: Roku, Firestick, Apple TV and even an Xbox. It is supported by Samsung Smart TVs and Smart TVs operating on Android TV or Google TV. Sling TV supports mobile apps for iOS and Android.

Sling TV has the Sports Extra add-on channel package at $11 per month. That adds networks such as NBA TV, SEC Network and MLB Network.

Sling TV is the least expensive way to get ESPN along with an assortment of entertainment and sports channels. Depending on your plan, you can possibly add some locals. The menu is intuitive and easy to use. And there are Sling TV apps across streaming devices and even the Amazon Echo Show.

There are no hidden fees or contracts if you decide to keep the service. You can even use your subscription to activate the ESPN app after you sign up for service.

YouTube TV

  • Free trial
  • Unlimited Cloud DVR
  • Three simultaneous streams
YouTube TV$72.99/month128
Device support: Android TV, Google TV, Smart TVs by Samsung, LG, VIZIO, Hisense, Sharp and Sony; Chromecast, Google TV, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Xbox, PlayStation and Google Nest Hub; Android and iOS devices.

YouTube TV has 128 channels, including ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and NBA TV for $72.99 per month.

YouTube TV only has one way to get ESPN through its base plan.

The YouTube TV base plan carries other key sports channels for fans such as TNT, TBS, SEC Network, ACC Network, ESPNews, FS1, FS2, NFL Network, and MLB Network. YouTube TV carries regional NBC Sports networks across the U.S., but is missing others such as Bally Sports and YES Network.

You’ll be able to watch CNN, Golf Channel and FX. Unlimited Cloud DVR is included with a subscription. And you can create up to 6 profiles for a household per account.

The nice thing about YouTube TV is that you can watch ESPN online at home, or on your smartphone when you are traveling.

YouTube TV offers a robust lineup of cable networks and local channels. It’s a more expensive option than Sling TV, but it has grown to the the most popular live TV service in the U.S.

The service works with Chromecast, Roku, Fire TV, NVIDIA Shield TV, Apple TV and Chromecast. Try out YouTube TV free for a week.


  • Free trial
  • 1,000 hours Cloud DVR
  • 10 simultaneous streams
Elite $84.99/month241
Premier$94.99/month250 & Showtime
Device support: Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast with Google TV, Xbox One, along with Smart TVs by Hisense, Samsung, LG, Sony Bravia and VIZIO SmartCast TV. Android, iPhones and iPads with current iOS.

fubo (formerly fuboTV) carries ESPN and harder-to-find regional sports networks such as NESN, Bally Sports and ROOT Sports Northwest.

fubo offers three plans with ESPN. fubo Pro, Elite and Premium.

The Pro channel package has 152 channels, including local ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX in most areas of the U.S. Food network, HGTV, Big Ten Network and Comedy Central are part of the Pro bundle.

Subscribers get 1,000 hours of Cloud DVR storage. You can watch live TV on 10 screens at once. If you miss a game, you can use fubo’s “look back” feature to watch sporting events that aired in the last 72 hours.

A subscription costs $74.99 per month. A regional sports fee is included, and costs between $10.99 to $13.99 per month.

The Elite plan is $84.99 per month, and has 65 more sports, news and entertainment channels. The Premier plan has 231 channels, including Showtime, for $94.99 per month

fubo has a library of on-demand content, including movies and TV shows. Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV and Smart TVs all carry the fubo app.

The fuboTV Elite package adds 60 more channels, including Pac-12 Networks.

Fubo has a diverse lineup of regional sports networks that you won’t find elsewhere such as Bally Sports and NESN. The Fubo app has perks for sports fans, allowing viewers to follow their favorite teams and catch up on games through the look-back feature.

Fubo has mobile apps for iPhone and Android so you can watch ESPN live on your smartphone. Subscribers can watch live TV through their web browser.

Hulu + Live TV

  • Sign up & get Disney+ and ESPN+ included
  • Unlimited Cloud DVR (9 mos.)
  • Two simultaneous streams
Hulu + Live TV$76.99/month90+
Device support: Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Chromecast with Google TV along with Smart TVs by Samsung, VIZIO SmartCast, Sony Bravia, PlayStation, XBox, Xfinity Flex and Xumo TV.

Hulu Live TV has over 75 live TV channels, including ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN College Extra, ACC Network, CBS Sports Network and SEC Network.

You can find RSNs such as NBC Sports Chicago. Hulu Live TV has only one plan. You can watch live TV on up to two screens at once.

Hulu with Live TV comes with unlimited DVR storage so you can record sports, news, movies or whatever else you want. Hulu carries local ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC across the U.S.

A subscription costs $76.99 per month, and now includes Disney+ and ESPN+. With a Hulu Live TV subscription, you can activate the ESPN app for ESPN3, and unlock all live sports on ESPN Plus.

Even though Hulu costs a few dollars more, it’s drives a lot of value with its extras. ESPN+ has exclusive live sports that it especially handy if you want to watch out-of-market NHL games, or MLB games during the regular season.

Hulu’s channel lineup has local NBC, ABC and FOX stations across the U.S. Hulu no longer offers a free trial for live TV, but you can look over the channel lineup before deciding whether to sign up.


Device support: Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Chromecast with Google TV along with Smart TVs by Samsung, Sony Bravia

DIRECTV STREAM (formerly AT&T TV) has ESPN in all of its channel packages.

The combination of sports networks offered under the Choice plan is important if you’re a fan of your local NBA or Major League Baseball team.

The Entertainment package has over 75 live TV channels including ACCN, ESPN, ESPN2, A&E, C-SPAN, CNN, CNBC, FOX News, History and HGTV. A subscription to the Entertainment package is $79.99 per month.

The Choice package has a wide selection of 40 regional sports channels, including YES Network, Bally Sports networks, NBC Sports and Marquee Sports Network. Choice subscribers get more than 105 channels.

The Ultimate package has more than 140 channels, including locals, and sports channels such as NHL Network. The Premier Package has over 150 channels, including premium channels such as HBO, Cinemax and Showtime.

Subscribers to Entertainment, Choice or Ultimate can get three months of Max, Showtime, Cinemax and MGM+ for free before the monthly rates kick in.

All subscribers get unlimited hours of Cloud DVR storage and 40,000 on-demand movies and shows. You can watch live TV on unlimited screens within your home.

DIRECTV STREAM is the most expensive option, so you are better off going to with Sling if you want just ESPN and a few other sports networks. That said, DIRECTV STREAM might appeal to someone who wants a regional sports network that’s harder to find such as NESN or Bally Sports.

DIRECTV STREAM works on Roku, Android TV, Fire TV devices, Apple TV and smartphones and tablets. You can use apps on supported Smart TVs running on Google TV and Android TV. Subscriptions run month to month and so you can cancel whenever you want.

Watching ESPN without cable FAQs

Here are some questions that sports fans ask when searching for ways to watch ESPN without cable.

Is ESPN on the Spectrum TV app?

You can get Spectrum’s streaming TV service when you subscribe to an internet plan.

The Spectrum Choice plan starts at $29.99 per month. You get up to 40 channels, depending on where you live.

You can check out the Spectrum TV app lineup for more information.

How to Watch ESPN on the ESPN app

DIRECTV STREAM, YouTube TV, Sling TV, Hulu Live TV and fubo support activating the ESPN app. You can use the app on your Smart TV, tablet, smartphone, and iPad (current iOS) to live stream ESPN.

You can use your TV provider to watch ESPN on a PC or Mac through a web browser. Click on the “Watch” tab on the ESPN website, and sign in using your pay TV provider.

Is the ESPN app free?

The ESPN app is free to download, but you need a cable TV, satellite or streaming service to activate the app to watch live sports. Activating the ESPN app gives you access to ESPN3 with most providers.

How to watch ESPN for free on a Smart TV

DIRECTV STREAM, fubo, and YouTube TV all offer a free trial that lasts up to a week. During the trial period, you can watch ESPN for free on a supported Smart TV or streaming device along with other local channels and cable TV networks.

You will need to cancel service before the free trial ends so you won’t get billed. Be sure to check each streaming service for details.

Does ESPN+ include ESPN?

No. ESPN+ is a standalone streaming service that has daily MLB and NHL games and other programs for $10.99 per month. The service does not get you the ESPN cable networks, including ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3 or ESPNews.

But you can watch some simulcasts from ESPN, including Golf, MMA fights, NFL and NBA games.

There are hundreds of exclusive college football, NCAA basketball games and UFC fights. A subscription to ESPN Plus costs $10.99 per month, or get it with Hulu and Disney+ for $14.99 per month as part of the Disney Plus bundle.

ESPN+ streams live games and on-demand shows through the ESPN app. Once you sign up to ESPN+, you can stream live sports and popular series such as 30 for 30 and The Captain in the ESPN app.

Does the WatchESPN app still exist?

No, not anymore. But some people still refer to the modern ESPN app as WatchESPN. The WatchESPN app shut down on July 1, 2019 and was replaced with the ESPN app.

Can I watch ESPN live on Amazon Prime?

No. ESPN is available only through a cable provider, or a live TV streaming service. DIRECTV STREAM, Fubo, Hulu + Live TV, Sling TV and YouTube TV all include ESPN in their channel lineups.

Can I live stream ESPN for free?

ESPN, the cable network, is not free. The ESPN app (formerly the WatchESPN app) is free to download. However, you need to activate the app as a cable subscriber or through a live TV streaming service to watch live sports.

ESPN+ subscribers get specific live sporting events that are exclusive to the service.

Is it possible to watch ESPN using a TV antenna?

No. ESPN is a cable TV network, not a broadcast network that uses public airwaves. Over the years, ABC has simulcast live sports that airs on ESPN. This year, ABC will air seven Monday Night Football games that are a simulcast from ESPN.

A TV antenna can get you those broadcasts for free along with other over-the-air broadcasters such as NBC, CBS and FOX.

Can I watch ESPN3 on YouTube TV?

Yes, YouTube TV supports watching ESPN3 without cable. Subscribers to DIRECTV STREAM, Hulu Live TV, Sling TV (Orange plan) and YouTube TV can all access ESPN3 through the ESPN app.

What’s the best way to watch ESPN without cable?

I have personally subscribed to Sling TV and DIRECTV STREAM over the years. Here are a few takeaways based on my firsthand experience: 

Sling TV Orange is the cheapest way to watch ESPN and it is an overall solid budget option at $40 per month. You can get a solid cross-section of cable channels such as TNT, CNN, and FS1. Customers have the benefit of customizing their channel lineups, so you have a better chance of getting the networks you want, and leaving out the ones you don’t.

DIRECTV STREAM has ESPN in its Entertainment bundle, but if you want regional sports channels then you need the Choice package. The streaming service has an intuitive user experience for anyone who is used to a cable or satellite subscription. But you should leverage any kind of promotions being offered for potential savings. With the Choice plan, you have a robust lineup of regional sports networks, ESPN networks, and local broadcast networks. There is a 5-day free trial that you can use without getting billed. 

What’s changed: VIZIO Smart TV owners can now use the ESPN app within SmartCast. The ESPN app lets viewers access their ESPN+ subscription and opens up a variety of live sports that is exclusive to the streaming service. 

The Athletic reports that ESPN becoming a direct-to-consumer streaming service could still be a few years away.

The streaming service Vidgo, which offers ESPN Networks, has been dealing with an outage since September 29. The company says it is working to return service.

For more news on streaming, how-to guides and reviews, head over to the main page of The Cord Cutting Report or follow the CCR on Google News.

Jim is a seasoned industry expert with over two decades of journalism experience. He has been at the forefront of the cord-cutting movement since 2016, testing and writing about TV-related products and services. He founded The Cord Cutting Report in 2016, and serves as the editor.

Major publications, including MarketWatch, Forbes, and South Florida Sun Sentinel, have interviewed Kimble for his years of expertise. He gives advice on the complexities consumers are navigating with streaming options, and over-the-air TV. Kimble has been a staff writer or correspondent for several award-winning, daily newspapers, including The Boston Globe.