In a previous post we talked about why sports bars need to show sports programming only available on OTT services. In short: if you’re looking to stand out from every other sports bar that shows what’s on ESPN, Comcast, Fox, etc. then you need to look for different and interesting content that sports fans can’t get anywhere else. That means OTT sports program providers.
Sports bars looking to dip their feet in the OTT sports content waters have a lot of options to choose from. Depending what your bar’s specialty is might sway you one way or another, but here are some of the more mainstream players and what they provide.
Cost: $99/annual for Amazon Prime, $8.99/month for Prime Video
Amazon is a relatively new player in OTT sports but is quickly making waves.
Amazon Prime subscribers can watch Thursday Night Football live as it recently renewed its contract with the NFL through 2019. Where Amazon really shines is it’s slew of sports docu-series and movies in its Prime Video library.
Launched: April 2018
Cost: Free until June 2018 (official cost thereafter TBD)
The popular fan-based sports blog host, Bleacher Report, has its own sports streaming service, B/R Live.
B/R Live will air live sporting events, including the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League, NBA League Pass games, 65 NCAA Championships, PGA Championship, National Lacrosse League, The Spring League, Red Bull Global Rallycross, World Armwrestling League and more.
B/R Live is free for everyone until June, but have not released pricing info for the service for July onward.
Any live events shown on B/R Live is listed on the SportsTV Guide.
CBS Sports HQ
Launched: February 2018
CBS was one of the first major mainstream players to launch an OTT service.
CBS Sports HQ currently isn’t streaming any live sports, unfortunately. It does, however, include news, highlights, and a lot of in-studio and original sports content, combining resources of CBS Sports, CBSSports.com, 247Sports, SportsLine, CBS Sports Fantasy and MaxPreps. CBS seems Sports HQ as being complementary to CBS Sports Network.
The upside is, like Xumo, CBS Sports HQ is ad-based and therefore free to subscribers.
The CBS Sports HQ feed is available on CBSSports.com, and on the CBS Sports app, available for all major devices and platforms.
Launched: April 2018
Cost: $4.99/month or $49.99/year
It’s been touted as a “lackluster version of the linear ESPN channel,” but ESPN+ provides a lot of bang for your sports content buck.
ESPN+ includes Recent Replays of MLB, NHL and MLS matches from the past week, including home, national and foreign language broadcasts. It also has live MLB, NHL, and PGA events, as well as international sports like cricket and rugby, Canadian Football League and top rank boxing matches. Live soccer events are a big part of ESPN+. The streaming service includes live out of market and local MLS broadcasts, USL, UEFA Nations League, lower league English matches, League One, League Two, and the EFL Cup.
It also includes documentaries and studio shows like Draft Academy, the entire collection of 30 for 30, The Masters Films (one-hour recaps of each Masters Tournament from 1960), and historic boxing matches. ESPN+ also provides a “sports marketplace” where you can subscribe to additional services like MLB.TV and NHL.TV (starting with the 2018-19 season).
It also gives you programming recommendations based on what you’ve watched (a la Netflix). Not all the content recommended is available through ESPN+, however.
ESPN is currently giving a free 30-day trial for ESPN+ subscribers is available through Roku, Apple’s iPhone, iPad, Apple TV; Amazon’s Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, Fire TV smart TVs, Fire Tablets; and Android phones & TV, and Google Chromecast.
Any live events shown on ESPN+ is listed on the SportsTV Guide.
We know, we know. It’s a social media site. But Facebook is adding more and more live sports programming to its services, including scoring some exclusive MLB games, so don’t discount it as a source of great sports content.
Facebook has an array of sports content, including Liga Mexicana de Beisbol, the MLB, World Surf League, Fox Sports UCL, BallisLife, NFHS Basketball, Stadium CBB, WWE Mixed Match Challenge, Stadium Lacrosse, Big 12 Basketball, Fox Sports UEFA Champions, Stadium NCAA Football, MLS, and CrossFit.
Over the winter they even added Eurosport CEO Peter Hutton to lead their global sports-rights deals, so expect this list to get longer.
Cost: Core ($44.99/month), Elite ($54.99/month), Ultra ($74.99/month), Sports Pack (+$10/month)
PlayStation Vue might be a great option for sports bars & restaurants utilizing video game nights as a traffic driver.
Vue has a few options. Their Core plan includes a variety of sports channels, including: CBS Sports Network, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNews, ESPNU, FS1, FS2, Golf Channel, MLB Network, NBA TV, NBCSN, regional NBC sports networks, NESN, NFL Network, Olympic Channel, SEC Network, TBS, and TNT. ESPN Deportes, GINX eSports TV is available on Vue in the Elite and Ultra packages.
Vue also has a Sports Pack add-on that includes NFL RedZone, Bases Loaded, ESPN Classic, Goaline, ElevenSports, Fox College Sports Atlantic, Fox College Sports Central, Fox College Sports Pacific, LHN, Strike Zone, NBC Sports, NESN National, and Outside.TV.
The downside with Vue’s sports content is that the games are blacked out.
PlayStation Vue is available on PS3 and PS4, iOS and Android devices, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Google Chromecast.
Premier League Pass
Launched: August 2017
NBC has held the rights for the America’s Premier League since 2013, but last year they changed how they were presenting the content to fans. Last summer they announced they were creating the Premiere League Pass, an OTT sports channel consisting of more than 130 live Premiere League matches and on-demand content.
In addition to the live matches, subscribers can re-play previous games on-demand. The channel also hosts a full suite of Premier League Productions and NBC Sports original content and studio shows, plus highlight clips.
There is a catch, however. The 250 Premier League games that will be airing on NBC’s TV outlets will not be available for live streaming with the Premier League Pass. In short for $50, you’re only getting about one-third of the total games this season.
Any live events shown on Premier League Pass is listed on the SportsTV Guide.
Launched: January 2015
Cost: Orange ($20/month), Blue ($25/month), Sports Extra Orange (+$5), Sports Extra Blue (+$10)
Sling is one of the older OTT companies out. It’s operated by Dish Network as a chord-cutting alternative and isn’t meant to replace full-blown satellite or cable service. Still, Sling comes with a decent array of sports content – depending on which package you’re interested in.
Sling has two base packages – Orange & Blue. For sports content, Sling Orange comes with ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN 3, TBS, and TNT. Sling Blue comes with Fox & CSN regional stations, the NFL Network, FS1, FS2, NBCSN, TNT, TBS and Univision.
The base packages don’t give a heckuvalot, but there’s also add-on packages that give a bit more sports.
Sports Extra (Orange) comes with NBA TV, ESPN SEC, ESPN SEC+, PAC 12 Network, ESPN U, ESPNews, NHL Network, BeIN Sports, ESPN Goal Line, ESPN Bases loaded, Outside TV, Motorsport.TV, and Univision TDN. Sports Extra (Blue) includes RedZone NFL Network, NBA TV, NHL Network, NBC Golf, BeIN Sports, PAC 12 Network, Stadium, Univision TDN, Outside TV, Olympic Channel, and Motorsport.TV.
Sports Illustrated TV (SI TV)
Launched: November 2017
Cost: $4.99/month (via Amazon)
$8.99/month (via fuboTV)
SI TV won’t have live sports, unfortunately, but it does come with an impressive library of sports movies and documentaries. More than 130 hours worth of sports content (beats watching SportsCenter on repeat all day).
Movies include the first five Rocky films, The Bad News Bears, North Dallas Forty, Rollerball, Eight Men Out, Kickboxer (1-5), and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (…wait…that’s considered a sports movie?), among others.
Instead of live events, SI TV is focusing on what it does best – telling stories. It has signed Mike Tollin (director/producer of several 30 by 30 films), and Jonathan Hock, so SI TV is really focusing on sports docu-series.
SI TV has several regular programs, including The Vault (revisiting biggest sports stories since 1954), SI: Under the Cover (interviews with athletes), The Crossover (basketball lifestyle show), Planet Futbol (US & international soccer show), and The Line (sports betting & fantasy).
SI TV is available through Amazon Channels & Video. The $4.99/month subscription doesn’t include the cost of Amazon Prime/Video, however.
SI TV announced its partnership with fuboTV in April 2018, creating a 24/7 linear streaming service if you prefer that over a Netflix-style library. The $8.99 subscription via fuboTV doesn’t include the monthly back package ($19.99 first month, $49.99 per month after).
Facebook isn’t the only social media site buying up sports streaming rights. Twitter is also in on the game.
Like Facebook, streaming sports on the social media site is free of charge for users. Twitter hosts one afternoon MLB game per week through the 2018 season. It also has a deal with MLS, showing 24 games per season.
Last year, the National Lacrosse League (NLL) teamed up with Xumo to bring NLL games to OTT. Xumo is an ad-based OTT service, meaning it’s content is free of charge, but you and your guests will have to suffer through commercials like regular cable television.
Under the deal, Xumo will provide access to the NLL’s games and highlights plus the league’s new NLLTV subscription network. Xumo viewers don’t have to purchase NLLTV to watch the games. They will, however, have to wait until the games air on NLLTV before they can watch the games and highlights on Xumo. Less than ideal if you’re looking to cash in on the live game buzz.
Xumo also has content from Sports Illustrated, Golf magazine, Golf Digest, the FNTSY Sports Network, World Surf League, Outside TV Shorts, Cycle World, Field & Stream, Adventure Sports Network, Glory Kickboxing, Hard Knocks Fighting Championship, FOX Sports, and the PGA Tour.
Xumo is included on smart TV platforms and is available on LG smartTV’s. It’s also on Roku connected TV devices and through iOS as well as Android devices.
Launched: April 2017
YouTube TV has an array of content, including OTT sports.
Its current sports bundle includes all four major broadcast networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox), ESPN channels (ESPN-U, ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPN, ESPN News), regional Fox Sports networks, and regional Comcast Sports networks. It also includes CBS Sports Network, Golf Channel, FS1 and FS2.
YouTube TV is also a presenting partner for the National Basketball League, Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), and the NBA G-League. It’s also has exclusive streaming rights with two Major League Soccer teams — the Los Angeles Football Club and the Seattle Sounders FC. It’ll also have the NBA Finals.
Earlier this year, YouTube TV added NBA TV, the league’s 24-hour network, to it’s lineup. The NBA League Pass and Fox Soccer Plus are available to YouTube TV subscribers as a premium add-on.
YouTube TV is available on iPhones, iPads, Android devices, desktop web browsers, and Chromecast devices.