Admit it, sports fans, you just can’t cut the cord.
You’ve tried. Really, really hard. While the rest of the world is moving on from the cable box, you feel hard-wired to your TV.
You’ve pored over every pertinent FAQ, endlessly scrolled through the terms of service and designed a comprehensive chart with your favorite local teams on the X axis and the myriad streaming services and content providers on the Y.
And you always stop just short of the snip.
Why? Because as it turns out, Seattle sports fans cannot have their baseball and stream it, too.
Yes, it’s Root Sports Northwest’s cable-bound contract to carry the Seattle Mariners that makes this effort like tilting at windmills. Sure, we’ve progressed to the point you can watch the Mariners on your tiny screen of choice, but you still need a cable subscription to do so. It’s like a fastball to the face. It’s gonna hurt.
So what’s a Seattle sports fan to do? Hard decisions await. But as it turns out, there is opportunity afoot. Football season has arrived, the Mariners’ season is fizzling out like a damp M-80, and you’re about to be free for six months of experimentation and boundary pushing.
Since there’s no way to get everything in one service, here’s a quick primer on some of the most cost-effective options to get you started. They’re but a small portion of what’s available out there, so do your research!
YouTube TV is among the handful of streaming platforms that come very, very close to being everything you need all in one. With more than 70 channels, including ESPN and some regional sports networks, YouTube TV is just about as close as you can get to full coverage. And you’ll pay for it. Service runs at $50 monthly, though there is a free trial. Notably missing: the Pac-12 Network.
The rebranded DIRECTV NOW recently settled a dispute with CBS, ending a blackout that threatened football season. The service carries most of the channels you’ll need for complete coverage in the Pacific Northwest, but like YouTube TV, doesn’t carry the Pac-12 Network. Also like YouTube TV, the price tag feels very much like a cable bill: $50 to $70 per month, with upgrades and a free trial.
The most intriguing option is PlayStation Vue. It offers similar channel menus to YouTube TV and AT&T TV NOW for $50, and you don’t need a PS4 to watch. With a $5 upgrade to the “Core” package, you can add 18 major and regional sports channels. But again, no Pac-12 Network. Bummer.
This early streaming service boasts a cheaper entry than its competitors. But read the fine print and you’ll find out if you want ESPN and much of the Sling TV’s sports packages, you’ll have to significantly upgrade. Sling TV has two packages, Blue and Orange, and each costs $25. You’ll need both, and though there are free trials and discounts, there’s not as much content here. Local channels vary greatly. There is, however, access to the elusive Pac-12 Network: for an additional $10.
So close. Hulu Live is a promising service that can’t quite deliver the goods. For one, Hulu doesn’t offer ABC in Seattle. And, no Pac-12 Network. It is slightly cheaper, however, at $45 with a free trial. One to keep an eye on in the future when/if it offers more complete coverage.
A newer entry into the market, fuboTV is getting there but hasn’t quite arrived. You’ll be able to mostly watch your Seahawks and college teams for $55 with a 7-day free trial. But with no ABC or ESPN there are significant gaps in coverage that can only be made up by adding a second option, such as ESPN+, to fill out your viewing schedule.
Pieces and parts
There are also ways to filter games from the web. For instance, Amazon Prime members — there are more than 100 million of them — have the ability to stream Thursday night games that air on Fox from Sept. 26-Dec. 12, and might not even realize it. Those 11 games include the Rams-Seahawks on Oct. 3, by the way. ESPN airs quite a bit of content on its website, though there may be local blackouts. An upgrade to streaming service ESPN+ is worth considering at a mere $4.99 a month.