Playoffs? Who said anything about playoffs?

by Colin McGuire. 0 Comments

Wow. How did we get two months into this thing without ever touching on sports? Honestly, though. Sure, we all love our sitcoms, movies and music programming, but what about the NBA and NHL playoffs? Or how about the upcoming (probably locked-out) NFL season and the current MLB marathon? The NCAA lacrosse finals? Soccer’s Champions League finals? Cricket? Golf? Tennis? Whatever odd, “this is actually a sport?” sport NBC airs on Sunday afternoons?

Those are all valid questions, friends. The interesting thing about sports television on the Internet, though, is that of all the possible things one may be interested in viewing, the wide world of sports is probably the easiest. As my dear friend Mark said to me months ago when I mentioned beginning this blog, “Sports doesn’t count. You can find that anywhere online. It’s easy.”

He’s right. And because I love you, the fantastically loyal blog reader, I thought I’d take time to compile a list of five sites anyone can visit to view streaming sports programming online. Why do it this way, you ask? Well, that’s because lists are fun, silly. And besides — lists are a whole lot easier to read than a bunch of jumbled, babble-filled paragraphs that you probably stop reading halfway through, anyways, right? Right. So alas, below are some helpful choices for those of you who have been wondering what to do when it comes to watching sports programming online (especially if you happen to be at work, your favorite sports team is competing and there is no television in sight — though you didn’t hear that from me, you good, always-working employee, you). Enjoy.

1. www.firstrowsports.eu — My go-to site for the 2011 NBA playoffs, this is listed first because it has also become the easiest and most reliable sports-streaming site I have grown to turn to. In addition to consistency (once you get a live feed for a game, that live feed doesn’t come and go as it pleases, much like some other sites we will get to below), it’s also an easy site to navigate.  Football, American Football, Basketball, Ice Hockey, Baseball, Boxing/WWE/UFC, Tennis and Motorsport are all represented across a banner at the top, and clicking on any of those leads users to actual results that work, something not always promised when dealing with these types of sites. Streams consist of both standard definition and high definition, depending on which sport you prefer and which network you go with (I settled on TNT’s standard definition stream for my Atlanta Hawks’ playoff run and the picture was good enough to take full-screen, though at times, it admittedly looked better when the picture was smaller). Easy. Reliable. And diverse. What more could you want?

2. www.espn3.com — Granted, this is provided for people with only a certain selection of Internet providers, but with that said, I happen to be one of those people that subscribe to an Internet provider that is compatible with this site. The good? The picture is beautiful. And I mean beautiful. During the Big East conference’s basketball tournament, I constantly had my browser pinned to this site because of its spectacular picture. Full-screen meant no problem and at times, it looked just as good as it would have on any television screen anywhere. The bad? Have you ever looked at some of the stuff the site offers? The Big East tournament may have been the best thing ESPN3 has ever aired. The platform is typically reserved for cricket matches, off-beat college athletics and soccer (which is something I really do utilize, actually). Think about it: While they understand the importance of offering such a thing, the heads at the Worldwide Leader would much rather you turn your televisions on to see prime-time college football or, heck, even the World Series Of Poker. A reliable feed and a great picture, yes. An interesting selection of programs most sports fans prefer to see, no.

3. www.ustream.tv — A site I used to utilize as much as I could in the deep, dark and distant year of 2009, it’s now become almost obsolete at best and completely irrelevant at worst. While it should be noted that the site isn’t exclusively sports-related, it should also be said that ustream has become a joke to consider when actually trying to find a feed that will work. Also, the site has seemingly turned the sports part of its brain to MMA, and while you can’t pull me away from a good soccer match or a basketball playoff game, I can say with full confidence that you will never be able to find me anywhere near two dudes kicking and punching each other while the host of “Fear Factor” screams in the background. Plus, the site has simply become too busy. Getting a page to load takes longer than some athletic events, for God’s sake. All told, this probably shouldn’t be your first or fifth option when you think about watching sports online. And if you don’t believe me, just take a look at how much the site is pushing something called USA Handball. Really?

4. http://atdhe.ws/ — Ahhh, the sports site of choice for all of us at my last newspaper (hey — what else are you going to do with no televisions in the office?). The feeds aren’t entirely reliable, though it must be noted that dealing with atdhe isn’t nearly as frustrating as the aforementioned ustream. The good part about this site is its diverse selection of networks (for instance, you could get up to five different streams of the same game, though it must be noted that most of those probably won’t work). The bad part is that the picture quality is usually suspect, and it typically features streams from networks that are overseas. So, well, if you don’t mind listening to a game featuring French commentators and a picture in which you can’t quite tell which team is on the attack, this site is for you. Either way, it’s a better option than ustream, and while the picture might not be nearly as good as ESPN’s, atdhe certainly offers more sports you might be interested in actually seeing. And that’s got to count for something, right?

5. www.justin.tv — While this is admittedly now a more mainstream site, thus eliminating the possibility of finding something you may actually want to watch while perusing through, it’s still an option that should typically be used as a last resort. Sure, the sports category under the “Live Channels” pull-down menu is attached to only “Racing” and “Wrestling,” but if you click, you never know what you might find. A foreign soccer match? Check. Mid-day poker programming? Check. A Major League Baseball game here or there? Check. Motorsports highlights? Check. The only problem? Good luck getting anything to load. The site is filled with bells, whistles, chat rooms and advertisements. Waiting around for everything to finally start moving could take hours. Still, if you need sports, and you tried the first four here, it can’t hurt to see what this site can offer. At the very least, you’ll be able to see screenshots of some forgotten WWE pay-per-view from 2003.

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