How to watch hockey & sports without having cable, even locally
06 Oct 2015
I've seen this a lot on twitter, so I thought I'd write a quick post on how I watch the Avs (& other sports) without having cable TV.
First you need a good internet connection (I go with Centurylink. TestMyNet.com has my d/l rate as 10.2 Mbps and upload of 599kbps). This seems to work pretty well. I'm waiting for a million comments on why my internet sucks and how I can spend 3 weeks and a ton of money to boost it "easily"
You'll need a Streaming TV device. I have a Roku3 ($100). Other Options are Apple TV, Fire TV, Playstation (3 or 4) or Xbox (360 or One). I also have a FireStick because they were $15 on sale one day on Amazon. IT works well for TV, but I don't watch a lot of sports on it. On the Roku 3 There's an NHL App that works easily with the gamecenter account. The picture is good (IMO, I'm no TV or Picture snob, though). There's Also, MLS, NBA and MLB. I also use the MLB app and the picture and broadcast is fine. You get everything you wou=9ld with MLB.TV and NHL Gamecenter.
I have no experience on PS 4, XBox one, or PS3, but on my Xbox 360 the picture for hockey (and basically only hockey) gets a little frame-y. As if the framerate isn't quite right, sometimes. It's a little bizarre
To avoid blackouts (local and national) you'll want a VPN or a VPN like service. I use UnBlock-us ($5/mo), which is just a change to the DNS server, and it avoids local blackouts. The other positive in UnBlock-us is that you can change your netflix region, to many different countries. There's aBBC show i thought looked good, so I changed my NEtflix to Germany, and watched the first season of "The Musketeers" on German Netflix. My wife wanted to watch "Transylvannia" with my son and we found it on Canadian Netflix and switched over and she watched it. It made the TV in Finland bearable, honestly.
You can also pick up SlingTV to get some limited cable channels (TBS, ESPN, ESPN2, A&E and some others). You can also pick up the sports package (+$5/mo) and get quite a few more sports channels (ESPNU, SEC channel, BeIN)
You'll also want a digital antennae for local channels (NFL).
I'm going to list some pros and cons of this setup:
• Every NHL game, in HD on my TV screen. Big game between Tampa & the Isles only available locally - I can watch it in full HD. Comcast Center Ice routinely has only 2 games in HD and the rest are still in Standard Def like I'm new to the whole talky picture experience.
• Late starts without missing anything - It's not quite "recorded" but I can start the game quite late (probably up to an hour-1.5 hours) and catch up to live just through FFing through commercials and intermission. Not quite dVR, but it's pretty good.
• I have no interaction with COMCAST
• Choice of announcers. Sometimes I want the HNIC or other local announcers.
• The bill. Even with NHL Center ice and the HW setup I pay a lot less than I would with Comcast. A lot.
• I watch what I want. When I want. NetFlix and Hulu and Amazon Prime have eliminated ny need I have for cable channels. Sling TV satiates my need for sometimes just browsing and watching. Unblock us expands Netflix's selection even more.
• Flexability. Want HBO, HBO now!, NHL, MLB? Get whatever you want. It's great.
• There's a delay on the game. I try and stay off twitter, because it's pretty significant (10-15s). I think this is gamecenter, but it's there.
• Sometimes, when the internet is laggy, it cuts out kind of laggy. Not ideal (It's especially bad with the NBC Sports app for soccer, because that app is terrible)
• One benefit is that you get every game in HD. Comcast Center ICe regularly shows only 2 games
• If you like shows on Network TV you're tied to a schedule like the old days (unless you buy a DVR like TiVo)
• If you want more than local channels for the NFL, it's going to be tough. Direct TV has a monopoly on that and I don't know of a good way to get around that
Overall I've enjoyed my experience off of cable, and I don't plan on going back.