Sometimes it can be difficult to pick a TV package that covers all of the sports you watch, especially with how many different channels are out there these days. Fortunately for the average sports fan, virtually every package will include local channels for regional sporting events as well as an ESPN or two for basic sports coverage. But what if that isn’t going to quench our sporting thirst? You can always get some add-on package or another from any cable provider that would give you just about any channel you’d want, but some do it better than others.
Each of the four major cable providers (Cox, Charter, Time Warner Cable, and Comcast Xfinity) have several pre-set channel lineups. Of these, Cox gives us the most options with seven different packages for us to choose from. Comcast gives us five lineups, though only three of them have more than 80 channels. Time Warner offers four options and Charter has three. Virtually every package with every provider is going to give us the local channels, which will carry major sporting events like football games, golf tournaments, and NBA playoffs. Most of them will also carry regional sports network, such as Big Ten Network if you are in Big Ten country or the Pac-12 Networks if you’re in the western United States, as well as ESPN and ESPN 2.
Mixed Martial Arts and related fight sports are a specialty niche that usually isn’t covered by our basic channel package. Most of these events are Pay-Per-View, but some of them are available on a regular cable channel. SpikeTV is one channel that frequently airs Bellator MMA tournaments, as well IMPACT Wrestling. UFC programming is often broadcast on the Fox family of networks, with “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series airing on Fox Sports 1. With Cox, Charter, and Comcast, both of these channels are available in HD in their standard channel packages. Time Warner does have these channels available in their standard lineup, but you would have to add a sports pack in order to receive the HD broadcast.
Soccer is another sport that can be hard to find on our cable networks, especially if you prefer international soccer — Uh, I mean, “football.” Fox Sports 1 and the NBC Sports Network both play international soccer and, like Fox Sports 1, NBCSN is included in the standard package for all the cable companies except Time Warner, with whom you’d have to have at least the Preferred package to receive that programming. BeIN Sport and GolTV are two other popular sports networks that air a substantial amount of soccer. Charter is the only carrier out of the four that doesn’t carry either of these networks, while Time Warner requires a sports pack add-on in order to receive them. Cox and Comcast both have them in their Premier packages or above, although they are available as add-ons to smaller packages as well.
More, more, more
Maybe you don’t care for specialty sports channels, you just want more football, basketball, baseball or hockey. Cox and Comcast will have you covered for all of these, with NFL Network, NFL Redzone, NBATV, MLB Network, and NHL network all included in their Premier package or above. You can even add on MLB Extra Innings, NBA League Pass, or NHL Center Ice if you want to be able to watch every game through the entire season. Time Warner has a similar offering, with add-ons available, but they don’t carry the NHL network in any of their packages – so if you’re a hockey fan, you’re out of luck. Similarly, Charter does not offer NBA TV or NBA League Pass with any of their packages, but the MLB Network comes in their standard, basic package and MLB Extra Innings is available for you to add on.
So, depending on your sport of choice, each provider has their advantages and disadvantages, while all will be able to cover the average sports fan. To see if you are getting the best deal on cable, view providers in your area below.
Photo: Chris Scaraglino
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