This is an update of the 2011 post. Not much has changed in the leagues, but ESPN has really pushed the Watch ESPN app. With a cable subscription you can watch ESPN on any mobile device from anywhere.
Prices range from $60 – $250 per season for 2012, not a bad deal if you’ve cancelled your cable and need some sports. For 2012, DirectTV is offering their NFL package at $250, instead of $350 (but only available to non-DirectTV customers, details below). The other prices have largely stayed the same, but mid-season deals are being offered more. If you’re late to the game they can be a good option.
Major League Baseball offers MLB.TV which is $120 for the entire season and includes any out-of-market game and, depending on your broadband, up to six games at once. Audio to any game, anytime and a full on-demand archive of all the games.
They also offer an offseason package for $25 which allows you to watch any game of the season and playoffs in full HD and includes next year’s spring training.
The National Basketball Association offers up NBA League Pass for $110-190, with more options at higher prices. The general package includes up to 40 out-of-market games per week, an ability to watch three games at once, DVR-like controls to instant replay your own highlights, and a full archive of the season.
The National Hockey League offers NHL GameCenter for $170 which includes all out-of-market games, DVR functionality for replays and highlights, radio broadcasts, and a new slow motion feature.
The National Football League is the laggard, but Direct TV does offer the NFL Sunday Ticket for $250. It’s only available if you’re, “not able to subscribe to DIRECT TV service at your current address.” The package includes all out-of-market games on Fox and CBS, a Red Zone channel which shows the final yards of every scoring drive, and instant stats.
There are also options from the NFL itself, including a $40-70 package called NFL Game Rewind that includes all past games on-demand from the 2009-2011 seasons, and for $30 NFL Audio Pass which includes every radio broadcast live and on-demand.
On a side note the NFL Network recently tested out a free broadcast of one of their Thursday night games using their NFL ’12 iPad app.
Major League Soccer also has a package called Match Day Live for $60. This includes 221 games, live games on an iPad, HD quality, DVR ability, the ability to watch up to three games at once, archived games, and condensed (20 min) games.
The worldwide leader in sports is playing a tough game when it comes to online content. They have one of the most popular websites in the world but keep their TV content off the web. If you visit ESPN.com the content is created for the web with no SportsCenter, limited highlights, and no games.
For that you will need the Watch ESPN app (iPhone, Android). It’s free to download but requires a cable subscription to use. There is no option for paying separately if you don’t have cable, and that feature may be a long time in coming. ESPN is betting heavily on this Watch ESPN program. They are pushing it across everything they do, all the channels, and it does offer a lot of games, but it does lock you into the cable world.