April 8, 2014

Can I Cut Cable and Watch All MY Sports?

One of the common themes in personal finance is the idea of cutting cable.   Cable is expensive and a luxury expense so its a natural candidate for cost cutting.    I've said before that I'm happy to spend a lot of money on cable.    We enjoy watching TV and even though it is pricey cable is really a pretty reasonable cost considering the amount of entertainment you can get from it.  Even though I have certainly looked at ways to cut that cost by going to cheaper alternatives like Netflix and Hulu.    One of the key reasons we don't cut cable is sports.   Live sports are hard to find anywhere but cable.  

Any time this discussion plays out on the net it seems that someone will step in and argue that you can cut cable and still watch all the sports you want.   The arguments go like this :

Just get an antennae and watch it over the air!   
Why don't you go to a friends house and watch the game there?  
I'm sure you can see those games at a local bar.   
You can use MLB.com or EPSN3 online to see all the games.

Now those can all be reasonably good solutions for some people.    But they really don't work for me or a lot of other sports fans.   My wife and I watch two teams : a football team and a basketball team.  The football team has 13 games a year and basket ball is 82 or more.

Over the air -  We could actually see 2 football games & 18 basketball games on the local networks over the air.    Thats actually quite a lot of games.   However I'd be missing 11 football games and 64 basketball games. 

Friends house - Its an imposition on my friends.  I don't always want to spend evenings and afternoons at a friends house away from my own home to catch games.    While I certainly do find watching sports with my friends its not always convenient and sometimes I simply prefer to stay in the comfort of my own home.  None of my friends are basketball fans so theres nowhere to watch those games.   Its also not totally free.  I'd have to travel to my friends house and to be a good guest I should bring snacks and/or beverage.

Local bars - I could absolutely see every basketball game at a local bar.     My football team is not a local team and doesn't get much if any playtime in local bars.   Bars generally expect you to spend money so I'd have to buy stuff.   Bars are not always convenient or comfortable.   I'd also have to travel to the bar and back which is extra time.    This is not a free option.   If I spend just $3 per game on a beverage to watch 64 games then thats $192.   If I travel 10 minutes to the bar each way then that ads up to 21 hours of travel time.   At $10 an hour thats $210.   Gasoline would cost me about $90 in total, not to mention the wear and tear on my car.   Altogether I'd be spending $300 - $500 in time and money to go to a bar and watch the 64 games.

Online games - There are NO ways to see our teams online.   None.  Trust me on this..   Yes you can often view many sports teams online, but our teams are simply not online.    NBA league pass online version would work if we weren't in the local market but since we watch the local team we can not see our games online.  My football team has no online viewing options.    If online options were available they generally wouldn't be free.     NBA's online pass is $65.

Honestly I could watch games over the air, impose on my friend to watch football at his house then spend dozens of evenings sitting in a bar nursing a drink like a cheapskate and catch all the games for our teams.   But I do not want to.



  1. I am fortunate enough to live in a sports market where football games are pretty good (New England). The NFL Sunday Night game and the NFL Thursday Night games are available online legally, but you would need to hook up your PC or tablet to your TV. TNT also provides a marquee Thursday night NBA matchup online via TNT Overtime. ESPN3 was really good for College Football at first but now they only show replays instead of live games.

    It is doable as long as you are in a market where the local teams are good/popular.

  2. Dan,

    I'm sure its doable in some markets.
    I think it depends a lot on how the teams handles their broadcast agreements and if they have online setups.
    But I do really want to see ALL of the games or at least nearly all. And thats a key to my point. If I was satisfied in only watching 25% of the games I'd be able to do so without pay cable.



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