I miss ESPN
November 18, 2010 1:14 PM   Subscribe

I don't have cable and do not want to buy cable but I want HD ESPN. What are my options?

This general life without cable question has been beat to death, I know. However, using those other questions, I have been able to live a pretty blissful cable-free life. We don't waste time watching trash-tv by watching actual quality series through NetFlix, and I watch the Daily Show online. Everything is great.

Except I am dying without ESPN to watch live sporting events. For whatever reason, I already receive basic network stations through the basic cable that comes in through the wall. I have been going to bars to watch television, but that ends up being more expensive than just having cable.

Therefore, I have the following questions:

1. Is it possible to get ESPN through some sort of a la carte cable service?

2. Is there a practical way for an average person to pick up HD service with an antenna?

3. Is there a cable service that only does sports for an inexpensive price?

If it matters, I live in Atlanta. Also, I already have Sunday Ticket to-go from Direct-TV and the service is absolutely awful.
posted by 2legit2quit to Technology (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Also, for what it is worth, I have an X-Box and WII.
posted by 2legit2quit at 1:18 PM on November 18, 2010

Your only option is what's available on ESPN3.com, which is usually subject to blackouts, and that's only if your ISP subscribes to it.

As for picking up HD with an antenna, it's easy, especially if you live close to the transmitters. Check out the reception maps. It won't give you much more than what you're getting through your un-disconnected cable, though.
posted by zsazsa at 1:26 PM on November 18, 2010

I don't think you'll be able to get ESPN on an antenna since it's not a broadcast channel.
posted by ghharr at 1:28 PM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

How do you currently get internet service?
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 1:31 PM on November 18, 2010

I currently get internet through Comcast.

Also, is there any merit to this article?

posted by 2legit2quit at 1:32 PM on November 18, 2010

what kind of sports are you looking for? Some, like baseball, offer packages you can buy that don't deal with ESPN at all.
posted by dpx.mfx at 1:32 PM on November 18, 2010

ESPN on Xbox Live, maybe? Don't know what the offerings are like because I don't have a Gold membership.
posted by MegoSteve at 1:32 PM on November 18, 2010

College and Pro basketball and football are the only sports I have time to watch.
posted by 2legit2quit at 1:35 PM on November 18, 2010

Is there a sport in specific you're interested in? Some leagues make all their games available by subscription - I know I can get either MLB or NHL games via my Boxee Box if I subscribe.
posted by cgg at 1:35 PM on November 18, 2010

You're in luck. Comcast supports ESPN3.
posted by BobbyVan at 1:36 PM on November 18, 2010

ESPN3 does not always have the games I am hoping to watch. And, it looks like the X-box thing is just a provider for ESPN3.
posted by 2legit2quit at 1:42 PM on November 18, 2010

For college sports, you might consider individual college websites. I know my alma mater streams lots of games live. Otherwise, ESPN3 is as close as you're going to get to ESPN without paying for cable or satellite.
posted by dpx.mfx at 1:45 PM on November 18, 2010

If there were an a la carte cable service, it would either cost as much as full cable or Comcast and the like would go bankrupt fast. Probably some of the crappier cable channels as well. The guy who only has basic cable to watch ESPN and ESPN2 is also paying for Bravo is also paying for Lifetime. The reverse is of course true as well.

Sorry. In a perfect universe...
posted by supercres at 1:48 PM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

I watch ESPN3 content on my Xbox and can tell you that basketball is nearly unwatchable even with my relatively fast cable modem. The game is fast and the camera is always moving. You get compression artifacts where you least want them: around the player with the ball. The fans in the stands are apparently difficult to compress, and it shows.
posted by uaudio at 2:33 PM on November 18, 2010

previously. you'll probably find some helpful answers in similar threads.
posted by gnutron at 3:19 PM on November 18, 2010

ESPN is a cable company, there's no legal way around that. You will not find their content anywhere else besides ESPN3, which is just the stuff they couldn't fit on ESPN and ESPN2.

Your best bet is an OTA antenna for the stuff thats not on ESPN (i.e. your local sports games on FOX, NBC, and CBS) and your other out of market sports via something like a Roku Box, which offers integrations with the NBA's, NHL's, and the MLB's streaming services.
posted by jourman2 at 3:53 PM on November 18, 2010

You're right, the Xbox is just a different box for you to watch epsn3.com on. For NBA games, have you tried their online streaming service? I don't know how good the quality is, but my understanding is that MLB's internet company also handles the back-end for the NBA, and MLB games look pretty nice, even when blown up and displayed on my HDTV. For college games, you might want to see, as dpx.mfx suggests, whether the college or conference you're interested in has online games. I would image the quality varies.

ESPN is, as far as I know, not available a la carte anywhere. If it's cable specifically you hate, you can try satellite or AT&T/Verizon. Otherwise, you're limited to whatever you can get over-the-air from the major networks. There used to be over-the-air subscription sports channels, but that stopped a long time ago.
posted by EatenByAGrue at 6:21 PM on November 18, 2010

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