Streaming can be a cost-efficient way to replace cable, often without losing your favorite channels and programs. Yet when it comes to international and foreign broadcasts, some content may be hard to tune into without a cable subscription. Sports fanatics, particularly those who need their soccer fixes from the UK, other parts of Europe, or South America, may be the most out of luck.
In response to a recent article, DealNews user herbert68 asked the following:
"How can I get access to global live streaming of soccer matches? I've searched the web and found many dubious websites full of bugs and ads, and poor service, [and] most are not free."
The good news is that you can keep your cable cord cut while watching global content on demand without spending too much, risking your web security, or doing anything illegal. Follow these three tips to get your streaming started.
Use a VPN or Smart DNS Service
One of the issues with looking for streaming content online is that many sites are sketchy and could run you the risk of downloading a virus, malware, or spyware simply for visiting. Lag times are also predominant; if you're looking for HD, real-time sports action, a stream that keeps buffering and freezing somewhat defeats the purpose.
Signing up for a VPN (virtual private network) service or smart DNS (domain name system) allows you to access some of the better streaming content on the web that might otherwise be encrypted or blocked in the US. A VPN also helps protect your identity, so if you sign onto a public WiFi network (e.g., those available at Starbucks and the like), you can still stream content without exposing your personal information, passwords, or logins to hackers. You might want to use a combo of both — a VPN when hiding your real IP address, and a smart DNS for faster streaming speeds.
The best VPNs and smart DNS services usually charge small subscription fees, but can still save you money compared to cable. Here are four of our top picks.
Compatible with various operating systems — iOS, Android, and Windows — a 1-year IPVanish subscription currently runs $6.49 per month.
This IP service blocks ads and anonymizes browsing for free. A premium version for $7.50 per month offers all-region, streaming smart DNS.
The DNS/VPN offers 100% secured streaming from more than 30 countries and in eight languages. Premium plan pricing starts at $4.95 a month; the gold package is $7.95 per month.
A subscription to one of these services should garner you access to one of several networks broadcasting Premier League games, like Now TV Sky Sports Pass or TV3 Sport.
Stream Live TV
We've sung the virtues of streaming live TV as a cheaper, more cost-effective alternative to a full cable subscription. This bears repeating when it comes to streaming global content, be it a South American football match, a BBC drama, or other international broadcasts.
Sling TV's comprehensive sports channel lineup offers most networks from ESPN (1, 2, and 3; ESPNU; and ESPNEWS), Fox Sports 1 and 2, and Pac-12. Since we're giving this roundup a soccer slant, signing up for Sling TV also gives you beIN SPORTS for watching La Liga, Serie A, Ligue 1, and CONMEBOL/CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers; ESPN Deportes for the UEFA & Europa League, and Liga & Copa MX; and Univision Deportes for Spanish-language sports, including boxing, Formula 1 racing, and more.
Sling TV starts with a 7-day free trial; afterward, prices range from $20 to $25 per month, with $10 for a Sports Extra add-on, and $5 for a Best of Spanish TV Extra package.
If you're only looking to stream soccer, you'd be remiss to pass over fuboTV, since it offers more fùtbol than you'd find through Sling TV alone. Some fuboTV channels include GOLTV, UniMás, and Football Report TV, as well as beIN and Univision. There's only a short trial period window to decide if fuboTV is right for you — 24 hours, to be exact — but once you sign up, a straightforward $9.99 per month applies.
Scour the Web
We can't honestly endorse the hundreds of bootleg, fishy-looking streaming sites across the web as legitimate options for streaming live TV — and don't even think about it if you don't have anti-virus protection. Quality, speed, and content might be spotty, and certain sites might not even be legal.
However, while some sites might be riddled with spam, adware, and all sorts of pop-ups, others present a crystal-clear picture in full 1080p HD. Try searching Google for your favorite leagues, and check which sites require registration, and those that promise fee service versus those that actually deliver. One site to start at is BestSportStreaming.com, a database of several potential options — but proceed at your own risk.
You might also go for the tried-and-true option of YouTube for full uploads (albeit, not live ones) of matches. At worst, you lose time on a fruitless search; at best, you save money and prove that cutting the cable cord was worth it in the end.
To all the streaming mavens out there: What sites would you recommend for full, live, legal content, sports or otherwise?