Historical story

The evolution of sports broadcasting in North America from television to streaming

Some may argue that it is better to watch sports on TV instead of going out to a stadium and watching the match live. You are in the comfort of your own home. You can cook yourself a snack without having to stand in line. And several times TV gives you the perfect overview of the action; you can see the entire playing field. Watching sports on TV also saves you money. Instead of paying for an expensive seat in a huge stadium, you can just tune in to your local sports station and watch the match for significantly less money.

The way we look at sports has definitely changed. To begin with, sports were barely recreated on TV stations. Then dedicated sports channels appeared. Now in 2021, streaming services are emerging as the popular form of sports broadcasting. But how did we get to this point? Let's take a journey through the history of sports broadcasting.

The first years

Before television came, sports betting was broadcast in a number of ways. At the beginning of the 20th century, game descriptions were sent over telegraph wires. Some would then announce the result to a total crowd. As the 20th century progressed, sporting events were broadcast on the radio. Listeners had to use their imagination to complete the action described. Other times, sports highlights were shown in theaters before movie screenings. The audience got to see their favorite players perform in their respective sports. But outside of these media, the only way people watched a sporting event was to attend the event in person. Otherwise, they read about it in the next day's newspaper or in a sports magazine.

In the 1930s, early television sets debuted at the New York World's Fair in 1939. This new medium was perfectly suited for sports broadcasting. The first televised U.S. sporting event was a college baseball game between the Columbia Lions and the Princeton Tigers on NBC. However, the first internationally televised sporting event was the 1936 Summer Olympics. During World War II, sporting events in the United States continued to be televised. However, most Americans could not afford a television set. It was not until the end of the war that TVs became affordable.


The 1950s began a decade of prosperity for the United States. As a result, more Americans were spending money, and with that money, many were buying television sets. Boxing, hockey, basketball and baseball were popular sports watching TV TV even helped popularize professional football. Millions of Americans watched the thrilling end of the 1958 NFL Championship between the Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants. When the 1960s began, color television added a new dimension to sports broadcasting. Now people could watch a sports match in bright, vibrant colors instead of grainy black and white.

TV stations

Initially, large American television networks (CBS, NBC and ABC) were the main broadcasters for sports. Outside these three networks was the only other source of sports broadcasting with syndicated TV networks. Synchronized networks were local stations connected to one of the major networks. For example, a television station in Detroit may be a branch of NBC. The Hughes TV network is an example of this. The station aired NFL and NHL (National Hockey League) games for several years before being sold in the 1980s.

Although the major networks and their affiliated local stations hosted various sporting events, sports broadcasting was still limited. TV stations devoted only a certain amount of time to sporting events; the rest was filled with other programming such as news or TV shows. For many sports fans, this left a serious void. They wanted a channel that was dedicated 24/7 to sports. And in 1979, they got their wish.


It is safe to say that ESPN revolutionized sports broadcasting. ESPN was launched in 1979 as a basic cable channel. Their programming focused on all sports, from regular games like basketball to rarities like darts and bowling. Their flagship program was Sports Center , a sports news program. Sports fans now had a program that only featured sports news and highlights; sports was no longer referred to as a minor part of a news broadcast. ESPN exploded in popularity as the channel secured the rights to broadcast the annual college basketball tournament known as March Madness.

ESPN has grown in size. Along with the flagship channel, ESPN has seven other related channels broadcast in over 200 countries. The channel also has many popular programs, such as Around the Hornet and Monday Night Football . In 2018, ESPN launched its streaming service, called ESPN +.

Pay per view

Before we talk about streaming services, we should first look at pay-per-view (PPV). PPV is mainly a type of sports broadcast where the viewer pays to watch a sporting event via a private telecast. Early forms of pay-per-view included closed circuits. These broadcasts usually showed professional boxing matches in theaters or arenas. People paid an entrance fee to watch the match. The first closed-circuit telecast boxing match was the championship fight between Joe Louis and Jersey Joe Walcott in 1948. The fights of Muhammad Ali in the 1960s and 1970s were popular closed-circuit matches. For example, Ali's championship match against George Foreman in 1974 received 50 million purchases worldwide.

1980s - modern time

Telecasts with closed circuits were eventually replaced in the 1980s. It was in this decade when home pay-per-view was introduced. From before, closed-circuit television broadcasts were shown in cinemas or arenas. Now people had the opportunity to order a PPV event from home. Boxing remained the popular PPV sport. Mike Tyson was a great PPV draw; his battles often received millions of purchases. In 1985, however, the World Wrestling Federation (now WWE) entered the PPV scene with Wrestlemania . Ever since then, professional wrestling companies have aired their big pay-per-view events.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has had great success with PPV. In the beginning, the martial arts league struggled with PPV purchases. However, the company experienced an increase in popularity in the mid-2000s. Suddenly, the UFC PPV received thousands of purchases. Mixed martial artist Conor McGregor is without a doubt the biggest PPV draw in the UFC. His fights with Nate Diaz for UFC 202 and Khabib Nurmmagomedov for UFC 229 exceeded 1 million and 2 million purchases, respectively.

Streaming Services

Now let's talk about power services. But what are they really? Basically, it is a media service offered to users over the internet. People often pay a monthly service fee to use the power service. Popular streaming sites include Netflix, Spotify, and Amazon Prime.

With the growing popularity of streaming, it did not take long before sports entered the world of streaming media. The first sporting event to be streamed was an Ohio State college football game in 2001. The game was streamed by local television station WBNS-TV using a compressed video player called RealVideo. Although it was primitive by today's standards, this broadcast was exciting at the time. Fans could now watch a sporting event over the internet; this was a revolutionary concept.

Pros and cons of sports streaming

There are many pros and cons to consider when subscribing to a sports streaming service.

An advantage of sports streaming is the large number of sporting events available to watch. The average cable package provides only a limited number of sports channels. These channels broadcast only a select number of games. For example, large networks will broadcast some baseball or hockey matches. The rest is sent to local affiliated stations. So if you want to watch a baseball or hockey game but do not live in the specific region, you are unlucky. Power pages address this issue. Many platforms let users watch any game they want, no matter where they are.

Another plus is the international aspect of power services. Many sports streaming sites contain sports from around the world. For someone living in Canada who is a big European football fan, it is difficult to find channels that actually show a football match. With a streaming service, this tab has access to a number of matches in the European Football League.


The cost of subscribing to a sports streaming site is always a disadvantage to consider. Most websites are affordable when it comes to subscription prices. Some even offer a free one-month trial. But when the month is over, users have to pay the subscription fee. For those who have a budget, signing up for a sports streaming site is not a viable option. And for those who subscribe to multiple sites, the cost starts to increase.

A notable disadvantage of streaming pages is the varying video quality. Unlike cable broadcasts, the video quality of sports streams is not always consistent. The video is often displayed in crystal clear HD quality. Other times, the quality seems choppy and pixelated. Users may also experience occasional freezing or delay times in the stream. All of these issues can arise from your internet connection. If your connection is not stable, chances are the power will experience video quality issues.

The best sports-streaming-sites.

As technology increased, so did the number of sports streaming services. Below is a list of some of the best sports streaming services of 2021.


As mentioned earlier, ESPN decided to enter the streaming world by launching ESPN + in 2018. ESPN + owns the rights to broadcast several professional sports events such as College Football and Bundesliga matches. However, the main reason for getting ESPN + is their PPV events. The service teamed up with the UFC to broadcast major fights. Many major UFC events, such as the third Conor McGregor Dustin Porier fight, are streamed exclusively on ESPN +. Pay-per-view boxing is also shown on ESPN +. Subscribers will soon be able to purchase PPV for the third Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury match. In addition to sports streaming, subscribers can watch popular ESPN series as 30 for 30 .

ESPN + ranks as a top sports streaming site because of its martial arts PPVs, as well as the popular programs it offers.


This global streaming service (pronounced Da-Zone) was launched in London, England in 2015. The following year, DAZN was launched in Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Japan. In recent years, DAZN has launched in Canada and the United States

DAZN has the rights to stream a variety of sports. Their main sport is boxing. Instead of streaming another company's broadcast (such as HBO Boxing), DAZN has its own boxing event broadcasting team. The first DAZN boxing match was a fight between heavyweight boxers Anthony Joshua and Alexander Povetkin. Johsua has become DAZN's most important audience feature; The site has streamed many of Joshua's fights. Their most watched boxing stream was without a doubt Andy Ruiz's stunning knockout victory over Anthony Joshua.

In addition to martial arts, DAZN streams the Premier League and other European football leagues. However, depending on your home country, DAZN will either show the entire game or just highlights from the match. For North American viewers, the incentive is to subscribe to the DAZN NFL Game Pass. This feature allows subscribers to stream all NFL games. Added features include a library of NFL-related shows, such as Hard Knocks and America's Game .

With its extensive sports library, DAZN ranks as a premier sports streaming service.


Of all the sports streaming services, this one can offer the most features. fuboTV launched in 2015. The site focused on streaming football matches, both international and North American. In 2017, fuboTV expanded its services by streaming the NFL, NHL, MLB (Major League Baseball) and NBA (National Basketball Association). What makes fuboTV unique is that it is not primarily a streaming site for sports. fuboTV has regular TV programs in addition to the sports content. The site also allows subscribers to record games to watch later. Other incentives include reliable streaming connectivity and 4k video quality. All of these features make fuboTV one of the best sports streaming services available.

A new era

Sports broadcasting has entered a new era. Slowly but surely, streaming sites are replacing TVs as the traditional way fans watch sports games. More and more people are switching to streaming based on the features these sites offer. This shift demonstrates the incredible evolution of sports broadcasting. To begin with, people had to use their imagination as telegraphs and radios were the only sources of sports broadcasting. Film and television finally brought the visual element to sports broadcasting. And with the advent of television came new ideas. Millions watched or bought closed circuits and pay-per-views of famous martial arts matches. ESPN started the era with dedicated sports channels. And finally, sports streaming appeared in the mid to late 2010s. We can only guess what the latest form of sports broadcasting will be.