With the Cubs’ quest to repeat as World Series champions under way, there’s never been more excitement about the start of a season. And the good news for Cubs fans expands beyond the on-the-field product: It’s possible this year to watch the majority of games online, even if you don’t have a cable or satellite subscription.
Fans inside the Chicago TV market can test out Sling TV and Fubo TV, streaming services that provide access to select channels, including CSN Chicago. We’ll break down the ins and outs of each service in this post. Fans outside the Chicago TV market can watch every Cubs local broadcast online through MLB.TV.
Whether a game is available online without cable depends on what channel the game is on, and whether you’re in the Chicago TV market. You can check out the Cubs’ broadcast schedule if you’re unsure what channel a specific game is on.
Without further ado, here’s a rundown of ways to watch the 2017 Cubs online without cable.
Overview of Cubs Live Streaming Options
The Cubs live streaming landscape is more complex than it is for most teams, because the team’s local broadcasts are split between three networks: CSN Chicago, WGN and ABC-7. (Some of the CSN Chicago games are on CSN Chicago Plus, which is available as part of the same streaming services that include CSN Chicago.) A handful of games are also televised nationally on ESPN, Fox and Fox Sports 1.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to legally stream WGN broadcasts, even if you have a cable or satellite log-in. But if you’re in the Chicago TV market, it’s possible to watch games on any other network through one or more online streaming services. We’ll provide a brief overview of the options first, then break things down in greater detail.
Fans inside the Chicago TV market can consider two online streaming services to watch Cubs broadcasts on CSN Chicago, ABC-7, ESPN, Fox and Fox Sports 1:
— Sling TV: If it’s important for you to be able to watch as many live broadcasts as possible, Sling is your best option. It’s the only service listed here that provides access to CSN Chicago, ABC-7, ESPN, Fox and Fox Sports 1. To get access to all of those networks, you’ll need to select Sling’s Orange + Blue option — a bundle that combines the service’s Orange and Blue packages. Like the other services listed here, Sling provides a free seven-day trial, so you can test out the product without being charged. You can click here to launch the free trial and test it out.
— Fubo TV: Fubo started out as a soccer-only service before drastically expanding its offering late last year. It now offers an array of national and regional networks that includes the CSN regional networks, along with Fox and Fox Sports 1. Like Sling, Fubo offers a free seven-day trial. You’ll need to enter your credit card information to launch the trial, but if you cancel your subscription before the trial ends, you won’t be charged. One advantage to Fubo is the ability to DVR content and watch it later. One disadvantage relative to Sling: Fubo does not carry ESPN or ABC. If you sign up for Fubo and not Sling, you’ll have access to fewer games. You can click here to launch the free trial and test it out.
DirecTV Now, a new streaming service powered by DirecTV, is also an option for games on ESPN, ABC, Fox and Fox Sports 1. But unlike Sling and Fubo, the service does not include CSN Chicago, meaning the majority of Cubs games are not accessible through the service.
If you’re outside the Chicago TV market, things are pretty simple: You can watch every local broadcast on just about any device through MLB.TV, a subscription service that offers access to every out-of-market game in the Major Leagues.
Looking for more information on which options are best for you? Let’s get into a bit more detail about what each service offers.
Sling TV, for Fans in the Chicago TV Market
As we mentioned above, if you’re looking for a one-stop shop to watch as much Cubs baseball as possible, Sling is the way to do that. The service provides access to every network that carries Cubs games, with the exception of WGN. Given that WGN live streams are not available anywhere, the lack of WGN access isn’t a disadvantage.
Sling, owned by Dish Corp., has steadily expanded its offering since its launch in 2015. Its most recent addition is CSN.
The service provides two basic packages — Orange and Blue — along with an option to sign up for both packages with a slight discount. Orange, which costs $20 per month after the seven-day free trial, includes ESPN, among an array of other networks. Both Orange and Blue offer just over 30 channels.
If you buy the Orange package, you’ll also have the option of selecting the Broadcast Extra add-on, which costs an additional $5 per month and includes ABC-7. Orange does not include CSN, Fox or Fox Sports 1. Blue, which costs $25 per month after the free trial, includes CSN, Fox and Fox Sports 1, but not ESPN or ABC.
If you want access to every available channel that carries the Cubs, you can get all of that by selecting the Orange + Blue bundle, which costs $40 per month after the free trial, and includes the Broadcast Extra add-on at no additional cost.
Here’s how to sign up:
2. Select either Orange, Blue, or Orange + Blue. (Orange + Blue will give you access to all available channels that carry the Cubs. If you select Blue, but not Orange, you’ll have access to CSN, Fox and Fox Sports 1, but not ESPN or ABC. If you select Orange but not Blue, you’ll have access to ESPN, but not CSN, Fox or Fox Sports 1. If you select Orange and add the Broadcast Extra add-on, you’ll have access to ESPN and ABC, but not to the other channels mentioned above.)
3. Enter your billing information and create an account. Again: You will not be charged until after you’ve completed the free 7-day trial.
4. If you’ve selected the Orange + Blue bundle, if you’ve selected Blue but not Orange, or if you’ve selected Orange but don’t need the Broadcast Extra add-on, you’re ready to watch the game. Simply download the Sling app on your computer or mobile device and find the channel the game is on. If you are interested in selecting the Broadcast Extra add-on: Once you’ve created your account, click on the icon next to the “sign out” button in the top-right corner of your screen. Once you’ve clicked on the icon, click the blue “change subscription” link.
5. Click on “extras,” then scroll down to the Broadcast Extra add-on and click “add.”
6. Download the Sling app on your computer or mobile device and begin watching TV.
If you’re interested in watching Sling on a connected TV, you can do so via Roku, Chromecast, Nexus player, ZTE and XBox One. You can click here for a full list of compatible devices. Simply follow the steps above to create an account, then enter your account log-in on your connected TV to access Sling content.
Fubo TV, for Fans in the Chicago TV Market
If you’re looking to test out a new product and you’re not concerned about the lack of ESPN or ABC, Fubo is an interesting option. The service includes CSN Chicago, Fox and Fox Sports 1, so you’ll have access to a majority of Cubs games. Also worth noting: Fubo is a fledgling product that’s still growing its arsenal of channels. It’s possible the service will add ESPN before the end of the season.
So what advantages does it provide over Sling? The biggest is the option to DVR content and watch it later. If you’re a big enough fan to tape games and watch them later on nights when you’re not able to watch live, the DVR feature is an awfully nice perk. If you’re at a computer, you’ll also have the opportunity to watch TV right in your Internet browser without having to download a desktop app. Lastly: The service allows you to sign in using your Facebook or Google account — a nice perk that not all services offer.
Fubo offers a base package, called Fubo Premier, that includes 51 channels and costs $34.99 per month after the end of the free trial. The service offers various add-ons ranging from an additional $4.99 to an additional $14.99 per month, but none of the packages involve channels that air Cubs games.
The process of signing up is simple:
1. Click here to sign up and launch your free trial. You’ll need to enter your credit card information when signing up, but if you cancel your subscription before the trial ends, you won’t be charged.
2. If you’re on a computer, you can start watching TV right away in your Internet browser without having to download a desktop app. If you’re on a mobile device, download the Fubo app.
MLB.TV, for Fans Outside the Chicago TV Market
If you’re outside the Chicago TV market, you can watch every local Cubs broadcast through MLB.TV. The service has three pricing options: An MLB-wide yearly subscription for $112.99; an MLB-wide monthly subscription for $24.99; and a team-specific yearly subscription for $87.49.
In addition to being able to watch on your computer, you can watch through the MLB At-Bat app.
The app is also available on Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, XBox One, XBox 360, PlayStation3, PlayStation 4, and a handful of other connected devices. Click here for a full rundown of devices that carry the app.