As technology advances and the quality of online video streaming improves with each passing day, consumers no longer feel that watching sports online is a luxury, but practically a necessity. More and more networks are streaming their linear feeds and not just allowing viewers to access their archived shows. People aren’t just using their TV’s to watch, but their mobile devices, tablets and computers. And as the smart watch market begins to grow, people will be likely to view sports and entertainment there as well.
In this day and age, we not only want to watch sports on TV, but we also want it online as well. Over the past year, the Olympics, World Cup, NCAA Tournament and NFL Playoffs all saw record streams and increased live hours accessed through mobile apps and websites. Fans know that as long as there’s an online feed, they can watch without missing the action.
ESPN was the first sports network to allow its linear 24/7 feed of its family of networks to go online. Other networks have followed suit in streaming either 24/7 or at least a majority of their schedules.
Fox through the Fox Sports Go app streams its linear cable sports networks as well as live games on the broadcast network. To access the app, cable and satellite providers must have an agreement with Fox otherwise you’re strictly out of luck to watch online.
NBCSN streams all of its live games as well as the Dan Patrick Show, Pro Football Talk, some of its outdoor shows, but not the entire 24/7 schedule on its app, however, some cable and satellite providers are providing the linear feed on their TV Everywhere apps.
NFL Network’s linear feed can be accessed on mobiles on the NFL Mobile app provided you’re a Verizon customer and on tablets if your cable or satellite provider has an agreement with the NFL.
Some niche sports networks like Golf Channel, Tennis Channel and Universal Sports stream their feeds, but there are some sports channels that aren’t online and they’re listed below.
CBS Sports Network
At this point, there are no plans to stream CBSSN. The network does have some games that would be easier to watch if they were available online, but apparently CBS is electing to keep CBSSN on TV exclusively.
ESPN has elected not to add ESPN Classic to the WatchESPN app. Whether it’s due to rights issues with some of its programming or the Worldwide Leader is de-emphasizing the channel, there’s no way to watch ESPN Classic online. Then again, the weekend programming schedule is full of repeated 30 for 30 or various ESPN Films documentaries that it might not be worth streaming anyway.
This can be seen online through some cable and satellite providers TV Everywhere apps including DirecTV. Last year, MLBN allowed its two Division Series games to be streamed on MLB.TV and the MLB At Bat app, but its linear feed is not available there. Maybe one day.
NBA TV/NHL Network
Again, these two league-owned channels can be seen in the same manner as MLBN depending on the cable and satellite provider, but for the most part aren’t available online.
Perhaps with more demand for online programming, these networks will find their ways to be seen by the masses in apps or through more TV Everywhere deals. Until that happens, consumers will wonder when they go online.
The increased access for viewers is a matter of convenience allowing them to watch when they want, where they want and how they want. And as the networks figure how they will monetize their feeds either through ads or other means, the demand for online access will continue to grow as long as the technology improves.