With all of the online video choices at our disposal, we still haven’t reached the promised land of being able to watch live television anywhere on any device. Nonetheless, the situation is improving, and streaming live TV programming to your computer or mobile device is no longer a pipe dream.
Whether you’ve cut the cable cord or simply want to stream live TV on the go, your options have improved. You shouldn’t expect to access every channel you’d get at home — at least not for free — but it’s easier than ever to watch live TV streams of news, sports, and entertainment.
STREAM LIVE TV NEWS
News programming represents your best option to watch live TV online for free. CNN Live and ABC News Live stream coverage of breaking news and live events, such as President Obama’s Inauguration, congressional hearings, White House briefings, and the upcoming State of the Union address scheduled for February 12, 2013. CBS News and the PBS NewsHour provide similar coverage through their Ustream.tv channels (PBS also offers live streaming simulcasts of its NewsHour program). Additionally, C-SPAN Live delivers its full schedule of House and Senate hearings, as well as its Book TV program.
RealPlayer can help you stay on top of all the latest news. Just check out the Web Channels feature to see the latest videos from the Associated Press, Reuters, and more delivered right to your computer.
STREAM LIVE TV SPORTS
Missing out on live sports is often a deal breaker for those considering cutting the cord, but that no longer has to be the case. Provided that ESPN is part of your cable package, WatchESPN offers free access to featured games in all major professional and college sports, including live international soccer streams. If the network isn’t included in your cable subscription, you can still stream live programming from the ESPN3 channel for free. You can access WatchESPN to watch live sports online via your web browser or mobile device. One caveat: some streaming events are subject to blackouts in certain areas.
The major sports leagues — Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, and the National Hockey League — all offer subscription options for streaming live games to your computer, mobile device, or even your HDTV through a set-top device such as Roku or Apple TV. You also get extra features like DVR functionality, home and away broadcasts, in-game highlights, and multigame views.
HOW TO WATCH LIVE TV ON THE INTERNET
Streaming all live TV programming is a bit trickier — and costlier. A “place shifting” device like the SlingBox, which connects to your home video source (such as a DVR or cable set-top box) and transmits the signal over the Internet to your computer or mobile device, lets you watch all the channels you get at home from any location.
Aereo charges customers a monthly fee to watch over-the-air broadcast channels on a web browser, iPhone, or iPad via a small HD antenna that you access from the Internet. You can also record up to two shows at once and access DVR functionality while streaming live TV. This service is currently only available in New York City.
Cable providers also offer their subscribers the ability to watch live programming on mobile devices, albeit with strings attached. Comcast customers can use its Xfinity AnyPlay service to watch live TV on an Apple or Android mobile device. The company charges $10 a month for the AnyPlay kit. But you’re limited to using your home Wi-Fi network to watch most of the channels included in your subscription. When you’re away from home, you only have access to Comcast’s On Demand content. Although you can register up to 10 different devices, Comcast only lets you view content on one device at a time. Time Warner Cable’s TWC TV app offers similar features, though without the monthly subscription.
One option that’s free even if you don’t have a cable subscription: the Home Shopping Network live streams its never-ending parade of product offers on its website and mobile apps.
How often do you stream live TV to your computer or mobile device? Do you see yourself streaming all your TV over the Internet any time soon? Let us know in the comments section below.