Everyone knows about ATDHE.NET, right? Watch live sports online for free

ESPN recently released a study saying that everyone is really overreacting to the notion that people might start going without cable television. According to their study, only 0.28% of American households have cut their cable cords in the past three months. This seems lower than it should be.

Plain and simple, I watch sports as much as anyone I know and I've gotten by just fine for more than a year without paying for cable. That said, I don't not pay for TV. Of the things I pay for, there's MLB.tv, NBA League Pass Broadband and an XBox Live subscription so I can watch ESPN3. I get what I want (aside from in-market MLB games), and nothing I don't. Taking all that away one can see quite a lot of sports for free.

"How?" you ask: ATDHE.net.

I don't remember how exactly I came across this marvelous site but it has been an absolute godsend. Whenever one of the games I want to watch isn't available through my nornal outlets, this usually has me covered. Alright, some unorganized bulleted observations:

  • The quality isn't perfect. It can range from very good to pretty bad depending on the event and the provider of the video. There are some providers that are pretty solid though, and look very good when pulled up on my roughly 30" Vizio.
  • The video found on the site isn't actually broadcast by them. They link to other outlets and channels that are broadcasting the game. An example is Justin.TV, which you want to avoid if you can. It's similar to various scandalous movie sites that link to out-of-country streams of major films.
  • For the best quality and consistency, shoot for video that's broadcast through either Veetle or VShare.tv. You won't be able to tell which is which by looking at the site's list of links, and will need to download a plug-in for each when prompted, but it's worth it. These have the highest quality and are less likely to be shut down in the middle of a broadcast. Justin.TV is, generally, not the best. Sometimes you'll catch one with good quality (rare) but these are the most likely to be shut down due to copyright infringement because it's right up on the Justin.TV site and easy to find. Also, VShare.tv requires Firefox.
  • This one took me ahile to figure out. Say you're using an Apple laptop plugged into a larger monitor and want to have the large monitor display the game while you're doing whatever else on the laptop. If you fullscreen the window on the large screen and then go to click on anything on the small screen, it un-fullscreens the sports. To fix this, open the sports, hit CMD+T to open a new tab and this should resolve it.
  • Fun easter egg: sometimes games are coming back into the US from people streaming the game in other countries. So, what's being broadcast on ESPN America or whatever channel they're getting it on may be different from traditional American TV. This means they might leave the camera on in the arena/stadium, or at least come back a little earlier than they would because the advertising is nonexistent or doesn't match up. If you're really lucky, they'll leave the broadcasters' mics on too. I've never caught anything scandalous but sometimes you'll hear them candidly talking about a play or player, possibly planning what they're going to come out of the break with. It can be entertaining.
  • Now, what can you watch? This is a rough summary based on what I've seen.
    • Just about all NFL games. And the Redzone channel. Quality can vary based on the popularity of the game.
    • Most, if not all, NBA games. Now the quality usually isn't going to be as good as NBA League Pass Broadband but getting something instead of nothing is pretty good.
    • MMA and Boxing. This is the best. Without access to PPV and then throwing down major money, you can't watch these. Well, you could go to a bar. But this is a worthwhile alternative. And because these are pretty popular events, the quality and quantity of streams available is pretty good.
    • A fair amount of hockey. It could be all games, but I'm not sure as I don't watch a significant amount of hockey.
    • Now, the catch is with Major League Baseball. The amount of MLB games available is nowhere near what you'll see for the NBA and NFL. You will, however, get playoff games and maybe a couple big games each night. All-in-all, not bad for free.
    • Various international sports. Soccer, racing, etc.

I think that's about as much as I could possibly write on the subject. If you know about the site, great, most sports fans already should. If you don't, it's worth a shot. It's good when you're at the office late and want to catch a game, hear there's a good out-of-market game coming down to the wire or, even better, just don't want to pay for cable.

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