I am a sucker.
I’m so addicted to watching sports and following along on Twitter, I pay some $150 a month to Mediacom so I can scroll through my tweets at-will without the risk of Marc Morehouse spoiling that Iowa ran the ball stretch left on 1st and 10 (and so my girlfriend can watch The Bachelor on Monday nights, but really it’s about me). I also decided to stick around Iowa City after I graduated, so I still have the advantage of having the Big Ten Network at my disposal.
Some of you smarter folks out there don’t pay Mediacom or AT&T or DirecTV. Or you don’t live in an area with BTN coverage anymore. Which can make it difficult for the Hawkeye faithful to watch every football game, or catch the Big Ten Baseball tournament championship game.
For those of you out there who don’t have one of those really generous friends who shares their cable logins with you, that’s where streaming comes into play!
In years past, streaming an Iowa football game was pretty easy: it was either going to be on ESPN or the Big Ten Network, both of which offer streaming options (of varying quality) for people with a TV provider login. This season, with the Big Ten’s new multi-billion dollar TV deal, knowing what channel to find Iowa football will be an annoyance of its own, but watching the Big Ten won’t be no matter where you are, because the Big Ten announced during Media Days last week that BTN will be available on Hulu TV and YouTube TV.
This puts the BTN onto four of the major streaming services, the other two being DirecTV Now and PS Vue at the $50 a month and $45 a month levels, respectively. The $50 DirecTV Now package is their second-lowest out of four tiers. If you’re a Sling TV user, however, you’re out of luck for BTN, and FS1 and FS2 are in the third channel tier. Better make plans in advance for Iowa’s season opener against Wyoming, and maybe a couple other midseason 11 a.m. kickoff games, depending on record (Purdue game, I’m looking at you).
Throwing Fox into the mix this year will be an added wrinkle, but won’t pose a problem for most of your streaming services of choice. FS1 is on the channel list for Sling, Hulu TV, PS Vue YouTube TV and DirecTV Now (although FS2 is only available with DirecTV Now’s $60 and $70 monthly subscription fees, which are the top two tiers. Who knows if any Iowa games will elicit so little interest and so much boredom that they’ll make it there). The biggest inconvenience will be checking the schedule each week to find out which app channel you need to find. Various services also offer local channels at various package levels, which is nice in case any Iowa games happen to make it on ABC, or if the Hawks make it to the B1G Championship (unlikely), which will air on FOX.
Now, you may be wondering why I, a man who admitted above that I still have cable, am writing about cutting the cord. Well, I’ve thought about it a lot. On top of being behind by even those precious few seconds (it’s so annoying when someone I’m messaging celebrates a touchdown I haven’t seen yet), I’ve found when I get into the nitty-gritty of cutting the cord that, at the end of the day, it’s really not that much cheaper than my current cable bundle.
Look at the price breakdowns for these services. Like I mentioned above, if you’re looking to watch every Iowa game, you’ll have to go with some of the higher pricing structures for services like Sling, Hulu TV and YouTube TV, and not all of those even include the BTN. Many of them also charge you extra to have a certain number of streams going at once. If you don’t live alone and your roommate is streaming something else and you want to watch the Iowa game and some random ACC 11 a.m. kickoff, you might be out of luck unless you’re willing to fork over more cash. On top of that, you’re probably still paying $60-$70 per month on internet. Add it all up, and you’re probably only saving $30 a month or so (not accurate math, just a guess).
Add that to the fact that I’ll be behind my live TV, and it’s just not worth it for me (yet. I’m willing to switch when the time is right, I’m just a late adapter).
So, what’s the best bang for my buck?
If I were going to cut the cord today, I would go with Hulu’s service. It has all of the channels I need, and my girlfriend and I already have a Hulu Plus account. I trust them, and have had little to no issues with their service. Hulu TV does however, get pricier the more TVs you have, and if you want HD (which of course you do, it’s 2017), that’ll cost extra too. But in my mind, Hulu would do the trick, and I’ll be watching this service as it goes through beta. The moment I can stop paying over $100 a month to Mediacom will be a great day.
If you’re looking for an even better breakdown of how you can cut the cord, check out this post from our friends (rivals?) at Corn Nation.