It was not so long ago that the TV networks had sports fans over something of a barrel. If they wanted to watch live coverage of a game, a fight or a race, it was to the subscription services of the cable and satellite networks, or the murky world of pay per view that they had to turn.
Today, the age of internet live streams is gradually changing all that. Improving technology, faster internet connections and wider access have all combined to make streaming an important part of our lives. Companies like Blockbuster Video were the first to feel the pinch and become casualties of changing times, but they certainly won’t be the last.
Just how important live streaming is becoming is brought into sharp focus when a major international event takes place. Last year’s soccer World Cup is a prime example. The final was watched by more than half a billion people, and around 20 percent did so by live stream. This proportion is all the more impressive when you consider that in the main viewing countries, the event was broadcast on free to air TV. This shows that it is not just a matter of saving money. Viewers love the flexibility and convenience of being able to watch sport whenever and wherever they choose on their mobile devices.
The major broadcasting networks have reacted to changing times by introducing online streaming to their service offerings. But as we will see from the following, they are suddenly finding themselves operating in a far more crowded and competitive market. Let’s take a look at some of the best options available for live sports streams on your Android or iPhone.
ESPN is a network that has gone against the tide. The global sports network has progressed from strength to strength in the online age, and has become the go-to online resource for all things sport related.
Anyone familiar with the website will know that ESPN has incredible strength in depth when it comes to the range of sports covered, and this is similarly reflected in its online streaming services. In fact, it currently lists 33 sports for which live streams are available, ranging from the obvious, such as football, baseball or soccer, to niche sports including kabaddi and chess.
Viewers can stream up to four events simultaneously and then watch them at their leisure. It’s an impressive service, and the other broadcasting networks are rushing to catch up. The only downside is that WatchESPN is only currently available to viewers within the United States.
As mentioned earlier, the broadcasting networks are being forced to jostle with a whole new range of competitors when it comes to live streaming, and Bet365 is a prime example. Sports betting has become one of the hottest topics in the USA over the past year, and there are a growing number of bookmaker sites providing live streams of major events, as well as video news and highlights. Clearly, this provides a value-added service to those who want to place a bet of their favorite sport, and it can deliver a competitive edge to the bookmaker.
Bet365 is one of the more long-established names in the industry. Based in the UK, it has been around since 2000 and over recent years has established a reputation as one of the best online betting sites for live streaming. Like ESPN, the site offers a wide range of sports and these add up to around 70,000 live streams every year. There is no charge to access the live streams, although you do need to have a live Bet365 account with a positive balance.
One of the most popular sports streaming sites in the Indian Subcontinent, Sony LIV keeps adding new products and streaming services to its range. Most recently, this included the acquisition of Ten Sports, a Pakistan-based sports channel, and its rebranding to Sony Ten.
Sony LIV offers both free and premium streaming services that can be accessed across diverse platforms. As you might expect, the emphasis is on those sports that are big in Asia, so if you enjoy keeping up with the soccer, cricket and WWE, this could be the streaming service for you.
ESPN might be leading the pack where the big-name broadcasters are concerned, but Fox is not standing still. The broadcaster knows that it will struggle to equal its rival in terms of scale, but instead has focused on some value-added touches that enhance the viewing experience.
For example, with selected streams, viewers can pause, rewind and fast-forward the action, putting them in complete control. There is also closed captioning available on most live streams.
The main focus for Fox Sports live streams at the moment is basketball, football and baseball. However, there is also plenty of other sports-related video content, including news updates, exclusive interviews and more.
If the above options have left you scratching your head and unsure which streaming site to install on your smartphone, SportRAR might just provide the solution you need. Instead of going to the trouble of streaming content directly, it has taken the Google approach of curating the best live streams from across the web and putting them all in one place.
The interface is intuitive and the range of sports on offer is genuinely impressive. Click on the link to the stream you want to view, the platform will redirect you to the provider and you can sit back and enjoy the action.
Where possible, SportRAR offers more than one link to a given event, so there is less likelihood of you encountering glitches or missing a key moment.
The downside? Well, in the online world, something for nothing usually means only one thing – ads. They can get intrusive and seem to be of a virulent breed that is resistant to the most powerful popup blockers. If you can live with that minor quibble, however, SportRAR is a compelling choice for fans of practically any sport.