Most sports, including Icelandic youth soccer, are televised. Unfortunately, American broadcasters dictate we get 900 hours of NASCAR for every one hour of something we actually want. Here's our guide to watching live sports when the powers-that-be won't let you.
Because it's the 24 Hours of Le Mans this weekend and, because Speed still hasn't committed to showing the race in its entirety on broadcast TV, we're going to use the big race as an example of how to build your own ultimate worldwide sports viewing pad without forking over big money for expansive satellite TV, but this is applicable to numerous sports both racing and otherwise.
Obviously, the type of event will dictate just how far you have to go to find a televised version of your favourite sport. European auto racing is just remote enough work as an example. If you're looking to watch out-of-market baseball games you can just use MLB.TV.
Step One: Connect your computer to your television
The basic premise of watching anything on the web that isn't broadcast in your region is finding that magical stream that brings that all important cricket match into your living room. But before we get they're going to need to get said stream from your computer to your television.
Depending on your computer and your television, making the connection should be relatively easy. All you likely need are the right cords. For a modern laptop it may be just as easy as hooking up a displayport-out up to the HDMI-in port on your flatscreen. If you're rocking a Macbook like me you'll need a proprietary MiniDVI to HDMI. The most common hookup for an older computer is VGA to VGA.
Once you get the male-and-female parts of your gear to make sweet, sweet electronic love test the system to make sure you're getting the best signal and the right sound. You may have to hook up an extra set of speakers if your system doesn't want to support the audio, which is great because the sound coming out of most TVs is usually poor quality. Here's a more detailed guide.
Step Two: Finding the stream
Someone, somewhere is likely to be throwing a stream out into the world for other fans to enjoy. Unfortunately, many of these streams are frowned upon by the corporation broadcasting the event which necessitates a level of secrecy.
This year we're fortunate that SPEED is broadcasting the hours of Le Mans that aren't on television right here, which means you don't have to go out into the underground world of the web to find it.
Let's just say they weren't. Or let's just say you don't like SPEED's coverage and would rather watch Eurosport TV. You can do that, too. Here's where to look:
- Forums: Online forums for your favourite sport often feature links to sympathetic fans in other parts of the world hooking up their TVs to their computers and broadcasting out to the world. Look around. Ask around.
- Twitter: Sometimes these streams go up quickly and then disappear, meaning you may not be able to count on a link from a forum. Find the appropriate hashtag (in the case of Le Mans it's #LM24). See the tag, see the world.
- ESPN3: Did you know ESPN3 livestreams some of the more obscure sporting events directly online or to your XBOX360/Roku/Playstation/Wii or whatever (assuming you have the right cable provider)? They do. Sometimes it's MLB games or Group "A" UEFA U21 soccer, which is fine if you're into that sort of the thing. We've been using it to watch ALMS races.
- Justin.tv: Hypothetically, there's no illegal video streaming on website Justin.tv. In reality, there's plenty of seemingly illicit video streaming going on there. Search around and there's a decent chance you'll find what you're looking for. Browse at your own risk.
- Other places: Sites pop up occasionally to stream TV from around the world. It's highly illegal and those types of sites are occasionally shut down, but they do exist.
Step Three: Finding the right audio stream/information
Chances are if you're a fan of Tuvan skateboarding you speak Russian or Tuvan or whatever, but if you don't you're often going to end up with a lot of incomprehensible audio streams. Also, as F1 fans know, sometimes the only F1 stream you'll get is the Arabic one.
In cases like these it's best to find a streaming radio network in English (or whatever language) covering the event. And even if the show is in English you may want to listen to a better alternative version.
For the 24 Hours of Le Mans this means listening to Radio Le Mans and muting everything else. Seriously, it's awesome. Do it.
Step Four: The extras
Streaming the event has its perks, as well, even if the event is broadcast in your market. Because you can easily adjust what's displayed on your screen you can customise it with more information.
Same goes for other sports if you want to see the pitch-count, boxscore, substitutions or whatever information you like. It's probably out there somewhere.
The team from Fast Lane Daily is going all-out this year by live-streaming the event, which includes their own simultaneously video game version of a 24-hour race. They'll also be there reporting from the festivities.
None of this is fool-proof, but it's an increasingly easy way for people to watch their favourite sporting event without having to shut out the world until the torrent downloads. Any other tips?
Photo credit: Fast Lane Daily, Cogdog/Flickr, ESPN3