AppleTV users... how do you watch sports?
December 15, 2008 12:21 PM   Subscribe

So between Netflix streaming and AppleTV I'm considering dropping cable entirely. Pretty much the only thing holding me back is football. How do you all watch sports? Caveat: I don't have a local sports bar nearby, and honestly I'd rather not spend all day Sunday in a bar.
posted by JReed to Technology (25 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
They still send those signals over the air for free. Is that not an option?
posted by Floydd at 12:32 PM on December 15, 2008

Response by poster: Floydd- yeah, I suppose that's still an option. I was just hoping to avoid setting up an antenna and buying the digital converter box. That just seems so... I dunno, old school. :)

I know the NFL is trying to sell cable/satellite subscriptions, but why not offer a web based service as well?
posted by JReed at 12:36 PM on December 15, 2008

My SO uses "SopCast" and he can almost always find the sporting events that he wants.
posted by k8t at 12:38 PM on December 15, 2008

You should be able to get all your local channels via your cable line through a digital converter box for free. These boxes are about $30. You get all local channels and maybe a few others in all their 1080P high def glory. I get cbs,fox,nbc,abc, weather channel, pbs, and, curiously, all the pay per view my neighbors order free through my cable line.

The only NFL game you cant watch is MNF (espn) and thursday night football (NFL network). Of course, if its your local team, those are rebroadcast over public channels, so you will get them.
posted by ShootTheMoon at 12:38 PM on December 15, 2008

I think Game Pass is what you're looking for, but it is kind of expensive.
posted by escher at 12:40 PM on December 15, 2008

With a coupon from the feds, you can pretty much get a digital converter box for $0. Why pay for a lousy LQ video-via-the-web when you can get it for free in hi-def?
posted by unixrat at 12:41 PM on December 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

Plus a converter box is legal, and not a complete pain in the ass.
posted by girlmightlive at 12:44 PM on December 15, 2008

The only NFL game you cant watch is MNF (espn) and thursday night football (NFL network). Of course, if its your local team, those are rebroadcast over public channels, so you will get them.

MNF and Thursday night games on NFL Network are not rebroadcast. You may be thinking of local market games which are typically broadcast on CBS/Fox/NBC.
posted by wavering at 12:49 PM on December 15, 2008

And you can get a credit for the converter box.

The problem with services like SopCast is that they're often unreliable, of poor quality, or come from out of the country so the spoken language is not necessarily English. I've tried to use such services for out-of-market games and it's not worth it. And it's illegal.
posted by JuiceBoxHero at 12:50 PM on December 15, 2008

The almost-free converter boxes don't have HD outputs. Do you have an HD TV set? There is a possibility that your TV already has an ATSC tuner in it so all you'd need is an antenna.
posted by zsazsa at 12:52 PM on December 15, 2008

Response by poster: Interesting. I wasn't aware that the digital converter box wasn't via the air. Yay for ignorance!

I guess I'll look into that. I can live without MNF (Tirico and Jaws are great, but Kornheiser is obnoxious).

I'll also check out Game Pass and SopCast. Thanks everybody!
posted by JReed at 12:54 PM on December 15, 2008

Response by poster: @wavering - Last week's dismal Raiders game was rebroadcast. I think it's only if your local market team is playing, but I'm no expert.

@zsazsa- Yeah, I've got an HDTV set and a regular set. I'll look into converter boxes. If I can get one that does HD without having to set up an antenna, that would be best. I just don't want to deal with the antenna but I will if I have to, I guess.
posted by JReed at 12:56 PM on December 15, 2008

JReed -- if you have a TV made recently, it will have a digital tuner, and won't need a converter box. I plugged bunny ears into my new TV and get all the over-the-air channels (which were unwatchable in analog) in beautiful, stunning HD. Including football, which I'd missed over the years of no cable.

If you have an older TV, you'll need a converter box.
posted by YoungAmerican at 1:03 PM on December 15, 2008

Response by poster: So everything I'm seeing says it'd still require an antenna to view local broadcast stations. Did I misunderstand @ShootTheMoon?
posted by JReed at 1:04 PM on December 15, 2008

Also note, if you are in a decent sized city, you won't need a huge outdoor antenna. We get all the major networks and more other channels than I knew existed over the air with a digital converter box and a amplified antenna that sits on the entertainment center. Never tried plugging it into the cable outlet.
posted by advicepig at 1:08 PM on December 15, 2008

I should mention that I watch three games every Sunday over the air with my digital box. With Fox, CBS, and NBC, you get decent coverage.
posted by advicepig at 1:10 PM on December 15, 2008

Response by poster: Ah... the indoor antenna is an interesting option. At least I don't have to put something on the roof.

Now, if AppleTV functioned like Tivo, I'd be set.

Anyway, if anyone has any more information about being able to get local channels via the cable line into my house without subscribing (legally, I mean) I'm all ears. Get it, all ears? Antenna joke? Is this thing on...
posted by JReed at 1:16 PM on December 15, 2008

If you have a friend who has TV, you could use a Slingbox and set it up at his or her house, and then watch whatever is on his or her TV through your internet connection. It's how I watch Philly sports games in LA.
posted by visual mechanic at 1:22 PM on December 15, 2008

Just a quibble, the Over The Air digital signals aren't likely to be 1080p, it more likely to be 720p or 1080i (and more likely to be the former).
posted by mmascolino at 1:22 PM on December 15, 2008

JReed. If you're lucky, sometimes the cable stays on even if you cancel it. But you can't get cable technically legally if you don't subscribe to it.

You'll have to try to get the indoor antenna.
posted by sandmanwv at 2:10 PM on December 15, 2008

JReed, on cable, local channels come in via unencrypted QAM. Most HD sets with tuners can get these stations without a cable box. So they're free in that you don't need a cable box to tune into them, so long as the cable is hooked up. If you cancel your cable subscription and they come by and physically disconnect the cable coming to your house, you won't be able to get the channels any more. If they don't disconnect the cable and just make you return your cable box, you'll probably still be able to get those open QAM stations.
posted by zsazsa at 2:14 PM on December 15, 2008

Response by poster: OK- thanks for the heads up. I'll just deal with it however it happens. An indoor antenna is an easy enough solution.

Thanks everyone for the help. Much appreciated!
posted by JReed at 2:16 PM on December 15, 2008

I have no idea what the quality is like, but apparently you can stream live games from espn if you have at&t dsl.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 3:16 PM on December 15, 2008

Beyond the two or three Sunday morning games that are broadcast over the air in your local area, you can get all NFL Network games (Thursday and Saturday games), and all Sunday night NBC games live. They are streamed live, for free, on (It even gives you the option to watch from additional camera angles). Getting that onto your AppleTV may be a challenge, but the content is there.

escher: Game Pass is only available if you've got an IP address outside of North America. DirecTV owns the broadband rights to Sunday daytime games for North America, and they don't (currently) make the games available in that fashion.
posted by toxic at 3:20 PM on December 15, 2008

I have mixed emotions at best on the idea of watching games a day or two after they happen, but the NFL does have a cheap streaming video service available within the US called Game Rewind. It's only $19.99 for the whole season or a weekly pass for $4.99. They stream all Sunday's games at least 24 hours after they are played to avoid infringing DirecTV's contract. Like Game Pass that escher mentioned, you can watch any NFL game and up to 4 at once onscreen, just not live. I don't know if I could live with trying to fit Sunday's games into my weeknights, but for $20, it's tempting.
posted by ashabanapal at 6:53 PM on December 15, 2008

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