Part 1 of this Connected Sports Series looked at one particular TV Everywhere service from NBC Sports, it’s weaknesses and areas for improvement to prevent users from wanting to throw their computer or tablet out the window.
Let’s now look at the mixed bag of TV Everywhere and virtual MVPDs available to live stream sports programming.
Xfinity cable offers live streaming TV and VOD services, both on a web browser and through their Xfinity TV Go app (mobile, tablet, OTT’s Roku, Xbox, Playstation, Apple TV). Customers have access to select programming similar to the Limited Basic cable subscription, including NBCSN. Having used it, I found it to be more reliable and better performing than the NBC Sports platform.
BUT it requires a Xfinity internet subscription (costs vary depending on download speeds) AND unlike Xfinity TV go, where content can be streamed on the go (thus the name) via the app or desktop, you can only access content on Stream TV while logged into your Xfinity Wi-Fi from your home. It costs $10 a month plus a Broadcast TV Fee of up to $5 plus other taxes and fees. Seems pointless, since you may be able to negotiate a Basic Double Play package that combines cable and internet for an extra $10 added to your base internet package. Premium channels and packages are available for additional fees.
Verizon FiOS’ Custom TV is a virtual MVPD bundle that combines mobile phone service with one of two different TV channel options for $65/month. The Sports & More package includes 40 HD channels, including ESPN (added earlier this year after ESPN sued Verizon for not initially including them in the core bundle), CBS Sports Network, NBCSN, NFL Network, and Fox Sports. Their Essentials package includes 50 HD channels for the same price but doesn’t include sports channels.
The service is supported via Verizon’s FiOS mobile app and OTT devices (additional subscriptions, i.e. Xbox LIVE Gold membership, may be required) for both home and on-the-go viewing.
Verizon’s Go90 has been ramping up their live streaming content, including sports, but only offers live football…er…soccer. Airing this week is CapitalOne Cup, La Liga, Serie A, and French Ligue. Additional sports-oriented VOD programs include The Dunk League, The Good Life (snowboarding), Uninterrupted, and others. The Go90 app (iOS, Android) is currently free and is available via web browser for both Verizon and non-Verizon customers.
AT&T’s U-verse is a TV Everywhere subscription with access to live TV streams for some sports networks (along with news, family, comedy, and drama networks), including ESPN, ESPN SEC Network, ESPN U, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, FS1, FS2, NBC Golf, NBCSN, NFL Network, and Univision Deportes Live.
AT&T’s new virtual MVPD will be branded under three tiers – DirecTV Now, DirecTV Mobile, and DirecTV Preview – and will be available later this year. Content will stream on all the standard devices and without contract stipulations. Pricing, exactly what content will be available on each tier, and other additional details have not been announced, but sports programming is expected to be part of the plan.
Both ESPN and NBC Sports require a cable subscription to access their TV Everywhere services. There is no stand-alone, direct to consumer virtual MVPD service for NBC Sports or ESPN. At least not yet. (More on ESPN’s next move in Part 4.)
Fox Soccer 2GO’s streaming subscription service (UEFA Champions League, Copa, Rugby, MLS) runs at $19.99 a month or $119.00 per year. Fox Sports Go, which provides access to other sports programming beyond soccer, requires a cable subscription. Both are available via web browser and mobile apps.
Sling TV, a division of Dish Networks, starts their streaming subscription, “without the cable experience you hate,” at the Orange level, $20 for 25+ channels with ESPN. Blue level is $25 for 30+, no ESPN but has NBCSN, Fox Sports, NFL Network, and coming soon, Comcast Sports Network (CSN) affiliated with NBC. Orange + Blue combines both for $40. Sling supports Chromecast, Apple TV, Roku, Xbox, and Amazon Fire, along with mobile and web browser, and offers the ability to add premium channels like HBO for an additional cost.
Time-Warner Cable’s TV Roku is trailing now in New York City for between $10 to $50 a month, offering all major broadcast channels for a base account, with a top-tier package required for ESPN and other premium channels. No news currently on when it will come out of its trial period.
As of May this year, the “sports first” virtual MVPD service, FuboTV, reached 50,000 subscribers. Still on the small side relatively speaking, but for those who are enthusiasts for the underground indie rock of sports fascinations, this may be your ticket. Included in the $9.99 subscription is the Chinese Basketball Association, Kontinental Hockey League, IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships, England Cricket National Board matches, and PRO Rugby. That’s not all folks, there’s also One World Sports (30 million subscribers worldwide) that features ALL the games (not just league specific) for select teams including: Arsenal FC, Chelsea FC, FC Barcelona, FC Bayern Munich, Juventus FC, and the New York Cosmos.
Side note: Hey, One World Sports, you need to update the header image on your Arsenal channel page: Bacary Sagna moved to Manchester City two years ago. And switch out Wojciech Tomasz Szczęsny, who moved to Roma on loan, with Petr Cech. Just sayin’.
Additional streaming TV services are coming up the ranks with various levels of content offerings, geographic availabilities, and price points, including PlayStation Vue, Spectrum TV (Charter), and Prism Stream (Centurylink).
If you missed the first two parts in this series: