Breaking Down the Best Free & Paid Live Sports Apps.

Find the right sports app for you.

watching sports on laptop


There’s nothing like catching live TV sports on the go. In the past year, I’ve watched the Mets while lounging on a beach in Malibu, the NBA playoffs while speeding in a taxi down 5th Avenue in New York, and kept up with Fantasy Football atop a volcano in Maui. (OK, the volcano didn’t happen – but it could have, if there was a decent Wi-Fi connection). And it’s all thanks to sports-minded apps that can stream content to devices - laptops, smart phones, and tablets –that are mobile and connected.

Of course, it’s still possible to follow golf, tennis, basketball and the like the old-school way, propped up in an armchair in your living room watching an HDTV the size of Cleveland. But like millennials who no longer have any use for landline phones, a new generation of sports fans prefer to be freed from the constraints (and high costs) of cable and satellite TV. They want the freedom to follow their favorite teams all over the globe on devices that fit in their hands or backpacks.

Here’s a superguide to some forward-thinking apps:

MLB.Com TV

Available on: MLB web site, iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Android

This all-in-one Major League Baseball app delivers live online streaming and audio of all out-of-market major league games. (Local teams are blacked out within a 50-mile radius). It’s the exclusive home for MLB content. Unless you want to spend hours online trying to find pirate websites and illegal downloads (which are out there, if you’re resourceful enough), this is your one-stop shop for all things baseball. In addition to your mobile devices, it’s also available on your computer, and works best when opened with Google Chrome (Safari doesn’t include the newest update of the HD Media Player).

The bad news: It’s not free. The good news: You get great bang for your buck. Annual subscriptions as of 2015 run $109.99 (regular service) or $129.99 (premium); or try it out monthly at $19.99 and $24.99. You can pay a prorated annual subscription if you sign up later in the season. Considering the app covers 162 games played by 30 teams (over 4,500 total) – and that you can replay any game, any time through the Archive function – it’s a bargain.

Best Features:

  • Your choice of viewing the Home or Away broadcast feeds; you can switch back and forth all game.
  • HD Media Player with viewing options like Picture-in-Picture, Mosaic (allows you to watch up to four games at once) and Full Screen.
  • Live Game DVR allows you to pause, rewind, and fast-forward the action.
  • Multi-Game Viewing allows you to toggle back and forth between other games – an invaluable function when the pennant races heat up.
  • Game recaps, video highlights, box scores, and player stats.

NFL Mobile – Verizon Network

Available on: iPhone, Windows iPhone, iPad, iPod touch

As with baseball, this is the exclusive home for NFL content. But it’s not as comprehensive as the baseball coverage; you don’t get access to every game played by every team. (For that, hard-core fans sign up for DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket, but that’s only available on your actual TV set.)

You must be a Verizon subscriber to download NFL Mobile. Note that, unlike MLB TV, NFL Mobile is NOT accessible on your computer.

Best Features:

  • 24/7 access to NFL Network and its various shows, statistical analysis, player updates, and lots more.
  • If you’re on Verizon’s “MORE Everything” Plan, you get free streaming of Thursday Night Football (NFL Network), Sunday Night Football (NBC), and Monday Night Football (ESPN). Verizon subscribers not on the plan pay $4.99 a month.
  • Game recaps, highlights, feature analysis, live scoreboard updates.
  • The best investment you will ever make, for an additional $1.99 a month, is NFL Red Zone, an addictive app tailor-made for Fantasy Football enthusiasts. Red Zone offers live look-ins on Sunday games, depending on which teams are closest to the “red zone” scoring opportunities (usually once they cross midfield). Whether you’re on a jet ski, hanging out at your favorite beach bar, or putting on the 18th hole, this app will make you stop whatever you’re doing. If two games are close to a scoring drive, the app may split the screen and allow you to watch both. If a score is missed, it’s replayed. All touchdowns are recapped at the end of the day. From 1 pm to 8 pm (Eastern) for 27 NFL Sundays, it’s a frenetic rollercoaster ride, must-have viewing for the hardcore fan.
  • For iPad users, NFL Network 24/7/365 and NFL RedZone are available, but you MUST be an eligible subscriber of one of the following cable providers: AT&T U-verse, Charter, Cox, DirecTV, Dish, Optimum, Verizon FiOS and others. If you’re not subscribed to any of the providers listed, you can always try to beg a password from a friend.

APPS WITH FREE CONTENT**

**The apps below are free, but there’s a catch: like the iPad users for NFL Mobile, all require a subscription to a cable provider. You’ll need a username and password to log in through your provider.

Watch ESPN

Available on: ESPN website, Amazon Fire TV, Android & Kindle Fire, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox One and Xbox 360.

The world’s leading 24/7 sports cable network streams its content – for free – on the Watch ESPN app. In addition to being able to watch Sportscenter and documentaries like ESPN’s famed “30 for 30” series, you get access to Sunday Night Baseball, Monday Night Football, and NBA regular season and playoff action.

TNT Mobile

Available via: TNT website, iPad, iPhone, Android

Just as with ESPN, it’s like watching TNT on your phone. You get access to the cable network’s original dramas and movies, and on the sports side, TNT is the home of the NBA Playoffs, and shows multiple games per night during the rush-up to the NBA Finals. TNT also airs weekly NBA regular season games, and shares some NCAA March Madness coverage (see below).

NCAA March Madness

Available via: NCAA website, iPhone, Android

This seasonal app comes alive for two unforgettable weeks in March, when the 66-team NCAA basketball tournament, a frenzy of buzzer-beaters, upsets, and general mayhem, captivates the nation. You can enjoy live streaming access to all the games being aired on TBS, CBS, TNT, and truTV, the networks that carry the tournament

NBC Sports

Available via: streamnbcsports.com website, iPhone, Android

Fans of golf, NASCAR, and the Stanley Cup playoffs can enjoy coverage of all via NBC’s streaming app.

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