How to Watch Kentucky Basketball This Season
The Wildcats won the SEC Championship and now are headed to the NCAA tournament. Can they win the whole thing? Find out how you can watch all of March Madness without cable.
If you’re wondering how to watch Kentucky basketball online this season, you’re not alone. UK is a top-five team going into this season and a favorite to win the national championship this year. But the big question is whether Coach John Calipari’s system will work for the youngest team the Wildcats have ever fielded.
So how do you watch Kentucky play this year without shelling out for an expensive cable plan? The key is finding a streaming service with all the channels you need for the lowest possible price.
Check out our guide below to see our recommendations for UK fans looking to cut the cord.
Guide to Watching the 2017–2018 Kentucky Basketball Season
|PlayStation Vue||Hulu Live TV||DIRECTV NOW||Sling TV||YouTube TV|
|Free Trial||Free Trial||Free Trial||Free Trial||Free Trial|
|Total Cost for all Channels:||$44.99/mo.||$39.99/mo.||$50/mo.||$25/mo.||$35/mo.|
#1 PlayStation Vue: Top-Notch Picture Quality for a Reasonable Price
Playstation Vue(Core Package)
- Offers every Wildcat game to stream
- Fantastic streaming quality
What We Like: Access to all Wildcat games
Drawbacks: Slightly higher price
Who It’s Perfect For: Kentucky fans who want a high-quality streaming experience on every game
Wildcats basketball fans can get every game this season with PlayStation Vue. While PlayStation Vue is a little more expensive than Hulu Live, it has a reputation for having high quality streaming, and it’s available in more areas.
PlayStation Vue Pricing
As much as we’d all like to watch Kentucky basketball for free, PlayStation Vue and other streaming options do require monthly fees. Luckily, they’re all no-contract and easy to cancel (unlike that cable package). So how much does PlayStation Vue cost?
The basic PlayStation Vue package starts at $39.99 per month, but it doesn’t include ESPNU or the SEC Network. If you want to get the nine games available on these networks, you’ll need to upgrade to the Core package, which costs $44.99 per month. That’s a little more expensive than Hulu Live, but we think the extra $5 per month is well worth it considering the streaming quality you get with PlayStation Vue.
Watching Wildcats Basketball on PlayStation Vue
PlayStation Vue probably offers the best experience for viewers streaming Kentucky basketball. PlayStation has been developing its livestreaming technology for years now, which has made its service a lot smoother than the competition. So if you want a streaming service that lets you see every bead of sweat on PJ Washington’s face, PlayStation Vue is the way to go.
PlayStation Vue also has a distinct advantage over other streaming services since it offers every channel you need to catch every UK game during the 2017–2018 season. Not only that, but PlayStation Vue has partnerships with the highest number of CBS affiliates nationwide, meaning you’re most likely to get games broadcast from your local CBS station if you sign up for PlayStation Vue.
That’s huge, especially considering CBS will be broadcasting the first rounds of the NCAA Championship this year, and Kentucky has a great chance of making it into the tournament. Just be sure to check on local channel availability before signing up.
PlayStation Vue Device Compatibility
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a PlayStation console to use PlayStation Vue. In fact, you’re free to stream Kentucky basketball via PlayStation Vue on any of the major video players. However, Xbox consoles are in competition with PlayStation, so if you’re using any Xbox console to stream TV, PlayStation Vue may not be the best service for you.
#2 Hulu with Live TV: The Most Affordable Option If You Can Get It
Hulu Live TV(Limited Commercials)
- Lower price to watch Kentucky basketball
- Access to all on-demand content
What We Like: Low price for all the channels UK fans need
Drawbacks: Not available everywhere
Who It’s Perfect For: Wildcats fans who live in an area where Hulu Live is available
If you want to watch Kentucky basketball live for the lowest possible price, Hulu with Live TV is the best option. There is a caveat, however. Hulu’s live TV offering is still a relatively new streaming service, so it’s not available in a lot of areas, which is why we ultimately had to rank it second on our list.
Hulu Live Pricing
Hulu with Live TV is the cheapest way to get all the channels you need to watch UK basketball this year. Live TV plans cost $39.99 per month and include access to Hulu’s extensive catalog of on-demand content and original shows with limited commercials.
You can also pay an extra $4 per month for the No Commercial option, which works exactly like the name suggests, except for one thing—it applies only to on-demand programming. You’ll still have to deal with commercials when watching live content like basketball.
Watching UK Basketball with Hulu Live
With most streaming services, if you want to watch SEC teams play, you’ve got to pay extra for the SEC Network. But with Hulu Live, you get the SEC Network included as part of your base package. Hulu Live also doesn’t charge extra for ESPNU like other services do, which is a huge reason why it’s the cheapest option on our list. Plus, it gives you access to tons of CBS affiliates across the nation (though not quite as many as PlayStation Vue). So if Hulu Live is available in your area, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to livestream five UK games plus March Madness this season.
As far as streaming quality goes, Hulu with Live TV is probably a step above most streaming services. It’s not immune to occasional glitching and buffering, but it’s pretty smooth overall—and a great way to catch Wenyen Gabriel making layups and hitting his three-point shots.
Hulu Live Device Compatibility
Hulu makes it pretty easy to watch Kentucky basketball online, as it’s available on a surprising number of devices for how new it is. And if you’re looking to stream using your Xbox console, Hulu Live has an app for you.
#3 DIRECTV NOW: All UK Games for a Little More per Month
DIRECTV NOW(Just Right)
- Watch every Kentucky game
- Channel variety for everyone
What We Like: Access to all Kentucky games
Drawbacks: Limited CBS availability and a higher price if you want to get every game
Who It’s Perfect For: Kentucky fans who already have an AT&T plan
DIRECTV NOW is a viable option for fans looking to watch Kentucky basketball online this season. The service offers all the channels you need to catch every game, which puts it above services like Sling TV or YouTube TV. But to get all those games, you need to sign up for the Just Right plan, and that will wind up costing you more than you’d pay for a comparable plan with PlayStation Vue or Hulu Live.
Long story short: it’s a decent service for Kentucky fans, but unless you’re an AT&T customer, you’re better off getting a cheaper plan from another provider.
DIRECTV NOW Pricing
As we already mentioned, you’ll need to sign up for the Just Right plan if you want to catch the Wildcats with DIRECTV NOW this season. The plan costs $50 per month, so it’s about $5 more than PlayStation Vue and $10 more than Hulu Live per month.
Alternatively, you could sign up for the basic Live a Little plan, which costs just $35 per month ($5 less per month than Hulu Live). However, the Live a Little plan doesn’t include ESPNU or the SEC Network, so you’ll miss eight games from the regular season plus a significant chunk of the SEC Conference Championship. That’s a bit hard to swallow for hardcore fans, but you’ll have to see what’s right for you.
Of course, DIRECTV NOW customers who also sign up for an Unlimited Choice Plan from AT&T get a $25 credit added to their bill, essentially making DIRECTV NOW service just $10 per month. So if you’ve already got an AT&T Unlimited Choice Plan (or have been thinking about getting one), DIRECTV NOW is definitely the most cost-effective way to stream UK basketball.
Watching Kentucky Basketball on DIRECTV NOW
Yes, DIRECTV NOW offers all the channels you need to watch Kentucky basketball. But keep in mind the service offers CBS access in only 15 markets nationwide. So unless you live in one of those 15 major metropolitan areas, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to watch every Kentucky basketball game via livestream. Definitely check DIRECTV NOW’s local channel availability to see if CBS is offered in your area before jumping into the service.
DIRECTV NOW also falls a little short in terms of streaming quality. The service lacks the infrastructure and technology that PlayStation Vue has going for it, and livestreams tend to cut out.
Fortunately, though, users tend to experience less buffering and other issues when using a fast internet connection. So if your home uses 1 Gig speeds, the streaming quality available on DIRECTV NOW may be completely fine (though we’re willing to bet it’s probably still not as good as PlayStation Vue).
DIRECTV NOW Device Compatibility
DIRECTV NOW offers device compatibility with most of the major video players, so Roku, Apple TV, and Chromecast users should be just fine. However, if you’ve got an Android TV or a gaming console, DIRECTV NOW may not be the way to go.
#4 Sling TV: Best Budget Option If You Don’t Mind Missing Games
Sling TV(Orange + Sports Extra)
- Lowest price to watch Wildcat games
- Tons of add-on options
For most people, Sling TV is the closest they’ll get to watching Kentucky basketball online for free. Sling TV costs $10 less per month than the next-cheapest competitors (DIRECTV NOW and YouTube TV), so it’s a great budget option for UK fans.
However, Sling TV does ultimately come in at number four on our list because it doesn’t offer any CBS access. So if you’re alright with missing five games, Sling TV may be your best option. But if you’re a diehard fan who has to watch every play from Hamidou Diallo, you may want to invest in a digital antenna (we like the Mohu Leaf 50) or sign up for PlayStation Vue, Hulu with Live TV, or DIRECTV NOW instead.
Sling TV Pricing
If you’re a UK fan, Sling TV makes watching college basketball pretty easy and inexpensive. Sling TV’s basic package (Sling Orange) is only $20 a month, and it includes nearly all of the channels you need to watch the Wildcats (ESPN, ESPN2, and TBS).
For the rest, you’ll need to sign up for the Sports Extra for an additional $5 per month. Of course, you could always opt to skip the eight regular-season games on the SEC Network and ESPNU, but considering that the Orange package and the Sports Extra combined are still $10 less per month than DIRECTV NOW or YouTube TV, we think it’s well worth it.
Watching the Wildcats on Sling TV
As we’ve already mentioned, Sling TV doesn’t offer any CBS channels, so you’re guaranteed to miss at least five regular season games and most of the NCAA Championship Tournament unless you pair your Sling TV service with a digital antenna. But at least the rest of the games are available via the Sling Orange package and Sports Extra combination.
Streaming quality on Sling TV is pretty comparable to DIRECTV NOW. It’s certainly not as smooth an experience as you’d get with PlayStation Vue, but if you have a fast enough internet connection, it’ll probably work just fine for your household.
Sling TV Device Compatibility
Sling TV is compatible with not only mainstream video players like the Roku, Apple TV, and Chromecast, but also on devices like the Channel Master, LeEco, and Ziaomi.
#5 YouTube TV: A Quality Option If You Live in the Right Area
- Relatively low monthly cost
What We Like: Relatively low monthly price
Drawbacks: No TBS
Who It’s Perfect For: UK fans who don’t mind missing the “big dance” in March
YouTube TV is frankly a bit of a wildcard. This fairly new streaming service is still working on expanding its availability (it’s currently available to only two-thirds of viewers in the USA), but it’s pretty inexpensive and offers quality streaming and lots of features. Ultimately, it gets our number-five ranking because it’s more expensive and less available than Sling TV, though it does technically deliver more live Kentucky basketball games.
YouTube TV Pricing
YouTube TV is similar to Hulu Live in that it doesn’t have multiple package tiers. YouTube TV users pay a flat $35 per month, which includes the SEC Network, ESPNU, and all the other channels you need to watch regular-season games.
At that price point, YouTube TV is less expensive than comparable PlayStation Vue, Hulu Live, and DIRECTV NOW packages. It is more expensive than Sling TV, but we think it’s still a great deal when you consider you get more UK games with YouTube TV than Sling TV.
Watching UK Basketball on YouTube TV
The biggest hang-up with YouTube TV is the fact that only 68% of the US can get it. However, YouTube TV is working to actively expand those markets and has a reputation for getting deals with all four major local stations (ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC) before offering service in the area. In other words, if YouTube TV is available in your area, there’s a great chance you’ll be able to livestream games on your local CBS channel. That’s a big plus.
Of course, if you’re looking to watch Kentucky basketball live online, you should keep in mind YouTube TV does not offer access to TBS. That won’t matter much during the regular season, but it does mean you’ll miss the last rounds from the NCAA Championship.
That’s arguably the most exciting part of March Madness, so it could be a dealbreaker for hardcore college basketball fans, particularly since UK has a good chance of making the Final Four this year.
Finally, there’s picture quality. Like PlayStation, YouTube has been investing in live video technology for quite some time. That translates to a smoother, higher-quality livestreaming experience than you get with most of the other services on our list. Of course, that ultimately doesn’t mean a lot if the service isn’t available in your area, so be sure to visit the website, click the “Try It Free” button, and enter your ZIP code to check availability before getting your heart set on all the perks of YouTube TV.
YouTube TV Device Compatibility
YouTube TV has recently expanded its device compatibility, so it’s now a lot easier to watch Kentucky basketball via the service. YouTube TV is also looking to expand compatibility to the Roku and other smart TVs in the near future.
Watch Wildcats Basketball Online With WatchESPN
Accessing ESPN3 on various devices is now possible via the all-inclusive ESPN app (available on the iOS and Android stores). Any Kentucky fan with pay TV or ISP authentication on the approved list gets free access to ESPN3 games. This free WatchESPN access only lets you watch what comes on ESPN3, and not other ESPN channels, so keep that in mind. So, you can use it to stream Kentucky basketball games every now and then, but it’s a pretty limited option.
WatchESPN also has apps for Xbox One/Xbox 360 and a few other devices.
Watch Wildcats Basketball Live Stream for Free with Antenna
Kentucky basketball games are sometimes aired on CBS, an over-the-air station that you can access for free using an antenna. To get coach John Calipari’s team on CBS this way, we recommend using a high quality antenna. For more convenience, you could also use a good DVR to record games. That will let you stream Wildcats basketball games on your own schedule.
On, On, U of K!
Streaming Kentucky basketball online doesn’t have to be a hassle. Hopefully, this guide made it just a bit easier. Head to the comments and let us know which of these services has worked for you and what you think of John Calipari’s super-young team this year. To watch all your favorite teams play without cable, read our guide to watching college basketball online. For general sports viewing options, check our sports streaming guide. Go Wildcats!