Sports fans have to deal with lots of annoying problems when it comes to following their teams. Blackouts, delays, “exclusive” deals… it’s annoying. So, what to do? Technology to the rescue! Here’s a breakout, by sport, of what you can get and where to get it.
We’ll be honest; the NFL’s mobile and streaming strategy is a patchwork mess. Mobile apps are only available for Verizon phones, and they barely work. Games are streamed online not via a centralized NFL app, but rather by the networks that have the rights to broadcast the games. And if you want NFL Sunday Ticket, you’ll need to have a DirecTV subscription, or a PS3 – Xbox 360 owners are only able to get content through ESPN. Apparently, that’ll change with the Xbox One, but for now, it’ll have to do.
Oh, and the best version of Sunday Ticket will cost you $300. Per season. In short? Your best app for the most concise updates and best streaming is probably going to be either cable, or BitTorrent.
Want to see NBA games anywhere you are? Hope you’re a Sprint customer, as Sprint has an exclusive deal that lets them stream games. The good news is that it’s free with GameTime Plus. GameTime is on Android and iOS both, so you’ve got plenty of options, and all versions include live streaming game audio, Twitter feeds, video highlights, and detailed statistics.
As for streaming to your TV, the Xbox 360 also gets Game Time, so you’ll be able to watch all the games provided. Sorry, PS3 fans, you’ll have to go to the green side, and buy the NBA League Pass, if you want any hoops.
The MLB undeniably gets it. Their central app, MLB.TV will run on pretty much anything; the MLB claims to support a whopping 350 devices (seen here). They even back the BlackBerry Z10. Although, if you want to watch video, you’ll need Premium, largely limited to iOS and some Android devices, as well as the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
For your money, you get every MLB game in streaming audio, for a start; the MLB does a good job with its radio programming, and that also means you can catch games at work. You also get full game archives, fantasy trackers, and widgets to track every in and out of the game. Essentially, if you love baseball, the MLB works overtime to make sure you get your $80 worth.
You’ll pay $80 a year for premium, $65 for the standard version. Go for the premium; you get more options, more games to view, and really, if you’re going to go, go all out.
Good news if you like hockey: The NHL wants you to see hockey! Imagine that!
NHL GameCenter is on the Roku, PS3, Xbox 360, Apple TV, Android, iOS, BlackBerry (noticing a theme?), and Boxee. It comes in three different tiers: Basic is pretty much just the stats and video highlights, Premium will get you radio on mobile platforms for a surprisingly low price, $5; and Live gets you the video streaming you’re craving.
For home the PS3 is probably the best choice, as it’s the only one with instant streaming. But beyond that, you’ll have plenty to enjoy, and the NHL is surprisingly reasonable.
Nascar offers a mobile app that’s fairly solid, with live race information for free. But it’s the live app that offers the most data; You can get live driver audio, driver telemetry, live alternate camera angles, and of course radio streaming live. And, as a nice bonus, Sprint users get all that for free. At least it’s not one of those annoying exclusives that lock other services out.
Note: Nascar offered a few races free online. However, it’s not clear what the cost is now, or if streams will be available in any capacity online.
The UFC offers UFC.TV, an app that lets you buy fights on a pay-per-view basis, and access previous fights. It’s pretty basic, as an app, but in a nice touch – weigh-ins and press conferences are streamed for free. It’s a bit sparse in terms of content compared to some other apps, but the UFC doesn’t have the same radio support, so the lack of content is understandable. There’s also Roku and Xbox Live support, for set-top boxes.
[box_light]Final Thoughts: So what’s best for sports fans? Have an Android set-top box, or Apple TV in the house, and have an Android or iOS tablet for the apps and when on the go. And hope the NFL and NBA pay attention and get with the program.[/box_light]
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.