NHL in 2021: How to watch and stream hockey without cable

The season may be young, but some of the goals have already been highlight-worthy. Pull on your team’s sweater and we’ll show you how to stream all the action.

Trevor Zegras and Sonny Milano of the Anaheim Ducks celebrate their astonishing goal.

TNT will broadcast 50 NHL games, including the outdoor Winter Classic, Stadium Series and Heritage Classic. TNT will also air half of the Stanley Cup playoffs. ESPN or ABC will air 25 games along with half of the playoffs and all of the Stanley Cup Finals, while ESPN Plus and Hulu will stream 75 exclusive matchups. The NHL’s out-of-market streaming service, formerly known as NHL.TV, moves to ESPN Plus for no extra charge.

So what does all this mean for hockey fans desperately looking to stream their team’s games? The good news is that you don’t need cable to watch hockey this year, but it still might be the easiest and cheapest choice depending on where you live.

Read more: NFL 2021: How to watch and stream football, RedZone this season without cable

Die-hard sports fans are beholden to regional sports networks, or RSNs, that carry the majority of the games for their local team. These RSNs are usually included in local cable packages, so most cable subscribers never have to worry about gaining access to the broadcasts on these channels: They can simply turn on the TV and watch the game.

Cord-cutting hockey fans have a tougher path. Because of rights agreements, most live TV streaming services like YouTube TV or Hulu with Live TV don’t carry many RSNs. DirecTV Stream is the exception. It has nearly every RSN, particularly the Bally Sports channels (formerly Fox Sports) offered by Sinclair, but you’ll need to spring for its $85-a-month plan.

Read more: DirecTV Stream review: Expensive, but the best option for streaming NBA and NHL

Ultimately, depending on location, getting a cable subscription that includes ESPN, TNT and the local RSN might actually be cheaper and easier for you than streaming — especially if it’s bundled with the home internet you’ll likely be getting anyway.

Whether or not you have cable, ESPN’s stand-alone streaming service is great for casual fans and is a must-have accessory for the zealots. It costs $7 a month or $70 a year and shows all out-of-market games along with up to 75 exclusive ESPN-produced telecasts per year. The catch is that your local team’s games are blacked out when they appear on ESPN Plus. Nevertheless, this is a huge savings for long-time NHL.TV users, as the all-access package used to cost subscribers $145 a year.

Even better for hockey fans, ESPN Plus just reached a deal to show 130 Kontinental Hockey League games — Russia’s top hockey league — including the playoffs and the Gagarin Cup finals. This is on top of ESPN’s NCAA college hockey coverage. That’s a lot of hockey for a little more than half the price of the old NHL.TV package.

Disney is also planning to show exclusive games on Hulu, so the $14-a-month Disney bundle might end up being an even better buy for hockey fans who also love TV and Disney/Marvel/Star Wars.

Those looking to just get ESPN Plus to watch their local team’s games will be out of luck, however. Most fans are in-market, meaning they follow the local team, and RSNs have broadcast exclusivity in the region that they cover. That means local NHL games are blacked out on ESPN Plus.

If you’re living in Philadelphia for example, you won’t be able to watch Flyers games on ESPN Plus. The same goes for Rangers fans in New York, Bruins fans in Boston and so on. The only way to watch most of those home team games in your home market is to get a service that has the local RSN, respectively NBC Sports Philadelphia, MSG or NESN.

Services like ESPN Plus use IP addresses to block out games in viewers’ regions — you’ll just get a black screen if you try to watch those games. That’s why ESPN Plus is ideal for casual fans who just love a good game, or superfans who want to follow one or more of the teams based in cities other than their own, aka out-of-market teams, but is less useful for fans of the local team.

Read our full review of ESPN Plus.

For those determined to watch their local hockey team without a cable or satellite TV subscription, a live TV streaming service is the best bet. While it is pricey, DirecTV Stream is the best option for most people, particularly those where the local games air on Bally Sports networks.

Below is a chart of all of the NHL teams in the United States and their corresponding RSNs.

Note: None of the US-based services carries the RSNs for the Canadian hockey teams. That means fans of the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators, Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks need to use ESPN Plus to watch all the games that are not either on your local RSN or on a US national broadcast.

Some key takeaways:

One other note: If you don’t recognize the name of some of these channels, don’t worry. The Fox Sports RSNs have been rebranded as Bally Sports, because the channels are no longer owned by Fox but Sinclair, which has since partnered with casino group Bally’s and renamed them.

The NHL Network, run by the league, is still available as a stand-alone station. This season the network will air 90 games that will be considered national for those out-of-market. This means that you will still be able to watch your local team play on your RSN, but viewers around the country will need the NHL Network in order to watch the game as it will be blacked out on ESPN Plus. Fans might be able to save some money if they’re willing to miss out on the handful of games on the NHL Network.

The NHL Network is not included in many basic streaming services or cable packages and is not available at all on Hulu Plus Live TV and YouTube TV. If you want it, chances are you are going to pay extra for it.

Many cable and streaming services group NHL Network into a multinetwork sports bundle. For example, Sling’s Sports Extra bundle costs $11 per month on top of a Sling Orange package and includes the NHL Network along with 13 other sports channels like NFL RedZone.

FuboTV includes the NHL Network in its $8-per-month Fubo Extra package. This can be purchased alongside any of Fubo’s subscription offerings, though Fubo Extra is included in the $80-a-month Elite streaming tier.

Lastly, Direct TV Stream users can only get the NHL Network if they subscribe to the $95-per-month Ultimate or the $140-a-month Premier package.

DirecTV Stream is expensive. It’s the priciest of the five major live TV streaming services, but it’s also the one with the most RSNs. Its cheapest, $70-a-month Plus package includes ESPN, ABC, TNT and TBS. You’ll need to move up to the $85-a-month Choice plan to get any available RSN. You can use its channel lookup tool to see which local channels and RSNs are available in your area. The NHL Network is available starting at the $95-a-month Ultimate package.

Aside from DirecTV Stream, the odds are long that a live TV streaming service carries the RSN for your local team’s games, which makes the other four services better bets for watching nationally televised games.

FuboTV costs $65 per month and offers 12 RSNs for hockey. It also includes ESPN, but not TBS — which might be a problem for some hockey fans. But you can add the NHL Network for an extra $7 a month with the Fubo Extra Package or pay for the $80-a-month Elite streaming tier that includes Fubo Extra. Check out which local networks and RSNs FuboTV offers here.

YouTube TV costs $65 a month and offers four RSNs for hockey, along with all of the national broadcasts. However, it lacks the option to get the NHL Network. Plug in your ZIP code on its welcome page to see which local networks and RSNs are available in your area.

Hulu Plus Live TV costs $65 a month and carries four RSNs for hockey along with ESPN, ABC,TBS and TNT, but not NHL Network. Click the “View all channels in your area” link at the bottom of its welcome page to see which local networks and RSNs are available where you live.

Sling Blue currently lacks a single RSN to watch hockey. You can, however, use Sling to watch some national broadcasts. Sling TV’s Orange plan includes ESPN and both plans offer TBS, but none of them gives you access to ABC. The NHL Network is available as part of the Sports Extra add-on, which costs $11 a month for either the Blue or Orange plan or $15 for the combined Orange-and-Blue plan. The individual plans cost $35 a month each, and the Orange-and-Blue plan costs $50 a month. You can see which local channels you get here.

Each live TV streaming service offers a free trial, allows you to cancel anytime and requires a solid internet connection. Looking for more information? Check out our live TV streaming services guide.

Oh, Canadians, we know you love hockey and so does the NHL. But that means that you’re unable to participate in the league’s new deal with ESPN Plus. Instead, you’ll have to continue to pay more for a subscription to NHL Live for all of your out-of-market games. The service was offering early-bird pricing of CA$180, but that price jumped to CA$200 once the season started.

NHL Live has a nifty tool that will help you figure out exactly what games are available in your region with your subscription.

Cord-cutters in Canada might also need Sportsnet NOW at CA$15 per month and TSN Direct at CA$20 per month to get their local games.

Jake Paul vs. Tyron Woodley fight purse: How much did the fighters make?

Incredibly, Jake Paul says he took a pay cut. But Tommy Fury — who may be Paul’s next opponent — says that’s not true.

Jake Paul and Tyron Woodley at a recent press conference.

“It’s coming out of my pockets for sure,” Paul told the Mirror. “Like, directly out of my purse. Everyone on the card is getting the biggest pay-day that they’ve ever had as a fighter and that’s just part of my movement. Look, these fighters deserve more, and I want everyone to be excited, and I want everyone to know that we as fighters should take care of each other.”

In addition to the Paul-Woodley bout, other fights on Sunday included Amanda Serrano vs. Yamileth Mercado, Ivan Baranchyk vs. Montana Love, Daniel Dubois vs. Joe Cusumano and Tommy Fury vs. Anthony Taylor.

But at least one of Sunday’s fighters — Tommy Fury, who is rumored to be Paul’s next opponent — said no money came out of Paul’s pocket, and that the claim that it did is a gimmick.

“Jake Paul’s own money, you must be joking,” Fury told the UK Mirror. “He’s not paid anyone out of his pocket, he’s trying to be the Good Samaritan; making foundations and charities, and putting other fighters in co-main events.”

Showtime wouldn’t confirm how much Paul and Woodley earned for the fight. One website, Sporting Free, estimates that Paul was guaranteed $1 million and doubled that with his share of the pay-per-view money. Woodley, the site claims, earned half of that — $500,000 for the fight and then doubled that to $1 million after pay-per-view money is counted.

Paul fought Ben Askren earlier in 2021. MMA Fighting reported that Paul earned $690,000 for that fight to Askren’s $500,000.

Paul has criticized UFC President Dana White for not paying his fighters enough. And apparently Paul believes training partners should also be well paid. Anthony Taylor, who lost to Tommy Fury Sunday night, signed on as Paul’s training partner for the Woodley fight and raked in the cash.

“I’m getting paid more money as Jake’s training partner in two months than I made in my whole entire MMA career in six years,” Taylor said in an interview. “I swear to God, I made more money with Jake in two months than my whole MMA career.”

The money won’t end there. Paul recently signed a multi-fight deal with Showtime, so as long as he’s willing to take the hits, the cash will continue to flow.

Kevin Costner visits Field of Dreams ahead of real Yankees, White Sox game

If you build it, Major League Baseball will come. And so will Costner.

Kevin Costner starred in Field of Dreams in 1989.

Don’t expect any ghosts of former pro players to appear at the game. It will be a real game that counts in the regular season standings, and will air on the Fox network with a pregame show set to kick off at 3 p.m. PT.

The Field of Dreams is ready to host a real MLB game.

MLB built a temporary 8,000-seat ballpark at the Dyersville farm where the movie was filmed. The new field is located near the current tourist ballpark site and has a view of the surrounding cornfield. “We look forward to celebrating the movie’s enduring message of how baseball brings people together at this special cornfield in Iowa,” commissioner Rob Manfred told MLB.com when the game was announced in 2019.

Costner got in on the nostalgia with a visit to the field. MLB shared a video on Wednesday of the actor walking around on the grass and taking in the sights. “Wow. This is perfect. Every bit of it,” Costner said. “Felt so good to be back,” Costner tweeted when sharing a photo of himself playing catch.

MLB posted a scenic photo of corn, lights and a sign with the phrase “If you build it…” as it hyped up the game on social media on Thursday.

The New York Yankees team Twitter account shared a photo gallery of its own that shows off the verdant green field, stands and signage.

Fans have long made pilgrimages to the Iowa farm where the movie was set. This for-real MLB game will elevate the dream to an even higher level. Is this heaven? No, it’s Iowa.

Originally published Aug. 8, 11:24 a.m. PT.

NBA Opening Night: How to watch Nets vs. Bucks, Warriors vs. Lakers on TNT

Giannis, Durant, Harden, Curry and LeBron are all in action to tip off the 2021-22 NBA season. And you don’t need cable to watch.

Keep reading to see how you can watch both games without cable. And to plan out your pro basketball viewing for the entire regular season, check out our guide for watching the 2021-22 NBA basketball season without cable.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks begin their title defense on Tuesday against the Brooklyn Nets on TNT.

Four of the five major live TV streaming services offer TNT (all but FuboTV). Sling TV has the cheapest plan with TNT, and DirecTV Stream is the priciest.

Sling TV’s Orange plan and Blue plan both cost $35 and include TNT.

Read our Sling TV review.

YouTube TV costs $65 a month and includes TNT.

Read our YouTube TV review.

Hulu with Live TV costs $65 a month and includes TNT.

Read our Hulu with Live TV review.

Formerly AT&T TV, DirecTV Stream’s basic $70-a-month package includes TNT.

Read our DirecTV Stream review.

All of the live TV streaming services above offer free trials, allow you to cancel anytime and require a solid internet connection. Looking for more information? Check out our live-TV streaming services guide.

Max Verstappen wins F1 championship in season closer, Mercedes launches appeal

A winner has been crowned at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Red Bull’s Verstappen won the Abu Dhabi GP.

Hamilton held an 11-second lead over Verstappen prior to a safety car due to a crash by Williams driver Nicholas Latifi with five laps to go. Verstappen pitted during the safety car, with a controversial decision by the FIA then allowing all lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to pass before the race restarted. The FIA’s decision put Verstappen directly behind Hamilton on fresh tires when the race restarted on the final lap.

Mercedes has launched a protest against the decision, arguing it was a breach of regulations. The FIA dismissed the protest late Sunday, with Mercedes now appealing that decision.

Verstappen finished the season on 395.5 points, while Hamilton finished on 387.5. Both rivals started the race with 369.5 points. Coming in third for the championship was Hamilton’s current Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, who finished the season with 226 points. Rounding out the top five were Perez on 190 and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz on 164.5 points.

Mercedes-AMG Petronas won the 2021 constructors’ championship, with both of its drivers in the top three.

Verstappen broke his rival’s winning streak, but Hamilton and Michael Schumacher hold the record for most championship titles, at seven. Hamilton, who is also spearheading an initiative to push greater diversity and inclusion in motorsports, won the F1 championship in 2008, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

The drivers get just three months off now, with the 2022 FIA Formula One World Championship kicking off on March 20 in Sakir with the Bahrain Grand Prix. Hamilton will continue racing for Mercedes with new teammate George Russell, while Verstappen remains at Red Bull with current teammate Sergio Perez.

Season four of F1 Drive To Survive will be coming to Netflix in 2022 to recap this year’s dramatic and controversial racing championship.

T-Mobile perks now available for Metro customers

The carrier opens its rewards program to prepaid customers.

The rewards program is now available to eligible T-Mobile, legacy Sprint and Metro by T-Mobile customers. T-Mobile merged with MetroPCS back in 2013 and rebranded the prepaid service to Metro by T-Mobile in 2018. T-Mobile also completed its mega-merger with Sprint last year, combining the third- and fourth-largest wireless carriers in the US.

Thank you, Tokyo Olympics, for bringing us the ‘beast mode’ we all needed

Many wanted the Tokyo Olympics cancelled, but in the end, they were incredible.

The best.

Pushing past the flimsiest steel barrier ever constructed, into a restricted area he clearly shouldn’t have had access to, Boxall ripped off his required mask and proceeded to… dry hump a fence like The Ultimate Warrior circa Wrestlemania 6?

Like I said. Beast Mode.

The best part: In the background, a Japanese Olympic official, doing her level best to provide resistance, raises her hands like a frightened gazelle and then succumbs. Slowly those raised hands are lowered, evolving into confused claps. OK, she seems to say. You’re here now. There’s nothing I can do about this. I’m just going to try and enjoy this front row seat to Beast Mode, starring Dean Boxall.

In this metaphor, Boxall is the Tokyo Olympics. Both as an event and an idea. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic both probably shouldn’t be here. As the world reels from the effects of the delta strain and global vaccine hesitancy, this is the Olympics no one asked for. Dean, what are you doing here? Bugger off, Dean. Now is not the time.

High jumpers Mutaz Essa Barshim and Gianmarco Tamberi gave each other their gold medals. This is too much.

Me? I’m the Japanese official. We’re all the Japanese official. Nervous, unsure how to react, ultimately acquiescing to this moment completely out of our control. Even in Japan, the host country, people were protesting the Olympics. First we collectively raised our hands in passive resistance. Seconds later we were all clapping.

And we were clapping because Dean Boxall is awesome. Reckless, sure. But so awesome. The Olympics were reckless too — but also awesome.

This is what the Olympics delivers: Beast Mode direct to your screen and your heart. It’s in the business of providing iconic moments like Boxall’s. Moments that simultaneously inspire and subvert our sense of what’s possible. Weird shit, displays of pure athleticism.

Two men collapsing into one another’s arms when they realize they can share a gold medal instead of duelling to the death for it. Skateboarding girls cheering each other on, making quick friends in the face of fierce competition. Runners stumbling, falling over in potentially race-ending collisions, miraculously recovering to win races.

Incredible, awe-inspiring moments.

Maybe it’s because we live in a universe where moments like these are worshipped, contorted and shaped into GIFs, tweets and memes in an infinite social media content spiral, but it somehow feels like we’ve had more of these moments compared to previous Olympics. That these Olympic Games have meant more than we ever could have expected when we cynically, reluctantly invited them into our homes.

Personally, as a man living in Sydney, a city wrestling with strict lockdowns that could potentially last for months, the Olympics was been a salve I didn’t realize I needed. It was a welcome distraction as I juggled home-schooling, work and a near-permanent dread at the daily ritual of waiting for Sydney case numbers to drop so we can all go back outside and live relatively normal lives.

There were a million reasons why the Olympic Games shouldn’t have happened in 2021. A million reasons why we shouldn’t have watched and supported what is arguably an irresponsible event run for the wrong reasons. But it’s also equally possible that — this year — the Olympics were more useful than ever.

The Tokyo Olympics probably shouldn’t have happened because of COVID-19. But I’m also happy it happened — because of COVID-19. If that makes sense.

None of it makes sense.

But right now, sport — with its simple rules and digestible outcomes, with its warm blanket of normalcy and straightforward narratives of triumph over adversity — is maybe the only thing that makes sense.

The Olympics, much like Dean Boxall, busted its way into our homes and televisions and refused to leave. An unwelcome guest. But, like the uncertain Olympics official dealing with the uncontainable Boxall as he dry humped a fence, I’m glad the Olympics forced their way into my life. I couldn’t have done lockdown without it.

Belmont Stakes 2021: Post time, TV schedule, how to watch without cable

You don’t need cable to watch the last and longest leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown today on NBC.

The 153rd running of the Belmont Stakes takes place on Saturday on NBC.

The Belmont Stakes takes place Saturday, June 5. TV coverage starts at 2 p.m. PT (5 p.m. ET) on NBC. Post time is set for 3:47 p.m. PT (6:47 p.m. ET).

If you don’t have cable, you still have plenty of options. The least expensive that doesn’t require streaming is to connect an over-the-air antenna to your TV and watch your local NBC station. You could also check out a live TV streaming service, all of which offer free trials and offer NBC. Not every service carries your local NBC station, however, so check the links below to make sure it’s available in your area.

Sling TV’s $35-a-month Sling Blue package includes local NBC stations but only in a handful of markets.

Read our Sling TV review.

Hulu with Live TV costs $65 a month and includes NBC in most markets. Click the “View channels in your area” link on its welcome page to see which local channels are offered in your ZIP code.

Read our Hulu with Live TV review.

FuboTV costs $65 a month and includes NBC in most markets. Click here to see which local channels you get.

Read our FuboTV review.

YouTube TV costs $65 a month and includes NBC in most markets. Plug in your ZIP code on its welcome page to see which local networks are available in your area.

Read our YouTube TV review.

AT&T Now TVs $70-a-month Plus package includes NBC in most markets. You can use its channel lookup tool to see which local channels are available where you live.

Read our AT&T TV Now review.

Jake Paul vs. Tyron Woodley: Start time, how to watch or stream online, everything to know

The Jake Paul vs. Tyron Woodley event is live! Here’s what you need to know…

We’re very close now to the fight between Paul and Woodley.

But now Paul faces the former UFC welterweight champion Woodley in a hotly anticipated boxing match. Who wins? It’s a difficult one to pick. Paul has more boxing experience on paper, but Woodley is an ex-champ and, unlike Paul’s previous opponent Ben Askren, Woodley has power in his hands. Most of his most famous wins have come via spectacular knockout.

Here’s everything you need to know…

Mark your calendars for Aug. 29 at 8 p.m ET/5 p.m. PT. The big event will be held in Paul’s hometown of Cleveland, at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

The fight will air on Showtime pay-per-view, meaning you don’t need to be a regular Showtime subscriber to pay for and watch the fight.

Showtime Sports President Stephen Espinoza told MMA Fighting on Aug. 2 that the fight will cost viewers $59.99. Not cheap.

“That reflects a couple of things,” Espinoza said of the price. “It’s in the ballpark of where similar fights have been. It is at a point below a lot of other higher priced PPVs, but in particular on this one, I think you’ve got a full boxing card of exciting young fighters. That was the key.”

Showtime’s fight page now is updated with how to buy the fight. Once you pay your $60, you can livestream the fight on a ton of supported devices. You can watch on your computer at Showtime.com, on your mobile phone or tablet, or on your TV and streaming devices, such as Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV (4th gen and up), Android TV and Xbox One.

You can also order the pay-per-view fight via such providers as Xfinity, Spectrum, Contour, Verizon Fios, Optimum, Vubiquity, DirecTV, U-Verse TV and Dish. Canadians can order it through Rogers, Bell, Shaw, SaskTel, and Telus. It also can be streamed via Sling, Sony’s PlayStation Store, and Fite TV in the U.S. and Canada.

A statement from event organizers says that an exclusive UK broadcast partner will be announced soon. Fox Sports will carry it in Australia and Sky Sports in New Zealand.

There also will be a live audience at the Cleveland arena. Tickets start at $10 and went on sale to the general public on July 22.

Fighters will weigh in at 190 pounds, which is what Paul weighed when he took down Ben Askren in April in a whopping two-minute-long fight. Woodley fought in the UFC at 170 pounds.

Paul stands at 6-foot-1, and Woodley at 5-foot-9. Paul is listed with a 76-inch reach to Woodley’s 74-inch reach.

The fighters will wear 10-ounce gloves and fight in a 20×20 ring, ESPN reports. The fight is scheduled for eight rounds.

Jake Paul and Tyron Woodley aren’t the only ones fighting on the card. Here are all the fights taking place…

The final press conference took place on Thursday and it devolved into a different type of chaos.

Scuffles and shoving matches are normal in boxing, particularly during press conferences, but today’s staredown brought controversy after a member of Jake Paul’s entourage appeared to get into an argument with Tyron Woodley’s mother Deborah Woodley. Tyron Woodley’s sister appeared to get upset and the situation escalated.

Tyron Woodley’s mother Deborah Woodley, affectionately referred to as “Mama Woodley” is a well known figure in the MMA community. She’s incredibly well regarded for congratulating and showing respect to her son’s opponents win or lose.

The fact a member of Paul’s entourage has verbally attacked one of the most loved figures in MMA has set a number of fighters off. Including Jake Paul’s last opponent Ben Askren.

Time will tell if this has an impact on the fight itself. Either way, it’s good promotion for the fight overall.

The two fighters have a creepy bet riding on the outcome. If Paul loses, he has to get “I love Tyron Woodley” tattooed on him somewhere, and if Woodley loses, he has to get “I love Jake Paul” as a tattoo. (Both fighters are already tattooed, so one more won’t exactly be a novel concept.)

And, breaking news, it looks as though a tattoo artist is being flown in to the fight to take care of the bet immediately after the fight. Jake Paul confirmed this plan during an interview this week.

Tatu Baby, who once starred in the show Ink Master, is being flown in. She’s already shared some potential designs for the tattoo.

Whoever gets the tattoo, you just know there’ll be plenty of publicity about the actual tattooing itself, not to mention photos of the final embarrassing product. (Smart tattoo artists in the Paul-Woodley circle are probably already thinking about how to eventually cover up or disguise the message.)

The Paul brothers, Logan and Jake, are both YouTubers turned boxers, which seems like an odd career path, but it is what it is. For one thing, they’re young. Jake Paul is 24, and Logan Paul is 26, so they’ve got youth on their side, plus their YouTube cash gives the option to do whatever they want with their free time. And what they want, apparently, is to beat people up and get beat up in return. These fights aren’t always for the record books, but for the bank books. (Logan Paul’s June bout with 44-year-old Mayweather was simply an exhibition.) While Jake Paul has fought three professional bouts, and won them all, his opponents weren’t professional boxers at their prime. Paul beat YouTuber AnEsonGib, former professional basketball player Nate Robinson and retired MMA fighter Ben Askren. (That last one was quick.) And all of the Paul brothers’ fights draw headlines and chatter, and add to their fame and bank balances.

Woodley talked some trash about Jake Paul at the Askren fight, and that led to the planned Paul-Woodley fight.

“Easiest fight of my career and biggest purse of my career all in one night,” Woodley said of the Paul match, according to ESPN. “Basically, they brought me in to take out the trash.”

Jake Paul is the younger of the two Paul brothers, and in addition to his internet videos, he’s known for playing Dirk Mann in the Disney Channel show Bizaardvark. He began his boxing career in 2018 and has won all three of his professional bouts.

Like his brother, he’s controversial. In July 2020, he made headlines for throwing a giant party in Calabasas, California, in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. Asked about the party, he told a reporter for The Daily Beast that COVID-19 was a hoax, then later denied saying it, leading to the reporter posting audio proving Paul did make the hoax comments. In that same interview, Paul also claimed “98% of news is fake” and falsely claimed that “medical professionals” say masks do nothing to protect against the virus.

He doesn’t just make headlines at his own events. Jake Paul’s brother, Logan, fought Floyd Mayweather Jr. in June, and in May, at a promotional event for the fight, Jake Paul mouthed off at the fighter and snatched Mayweather’s hat. He then started selling black baseball caps with the words “gotcha hat” printed on them.

Woodley, 39, started in MMA back in 2009, became UFC welterweight champion in 2016 and defended his title four times, losing it in 2019.

Like Paul, he has an entertainment career as well. He’s appeared in numerous movies in small roles, and has hosted a podcast and a TMZ web show.

Woodley says this may be his first boxing match, but it won’t be his last.

“At the end of the day, I’m in boxing right now,” he said, according to ESPN. “(Paul’s) my first opponent. This is your first and everybody else’s first chance to watch me box.”

There’s one other big fight on Showtime’s card for the night, plus three smaller ones. Featherweight world champion Amanda Serrano (40-1-1) will take on super bantamweight world champion Yamileth Mercado, who’s 18-2-0.

“Not too many people want to fight me. It’s going to be a great fight,” Serrano said, according to World Boxing News.

Mercado said she began her career at featherweight before going down to bantamweight and is excited to fight in her old weight class again.

“We’re going to leave it all in the ring, and the ladies are going to be stealing the show,” she said, according to the World Boxing News report.

While the Serrano-Mercado fight is being billed as a “co-main event,” there are also three fights on the undercard. Ivan Barancyhk will fight Montana Love, Daniel Dubois will take on Juiseppe Cusumano, and Tommy Fury will fight Anthony Taylor.

How 5G played a role in the Phoenix Suns’ historic NBA title run

The wireless technology gave the team an edge when it came to crunching the data on its players to find ways for them to improve.

Chris Paul and Devin Booker during the 2021 NBA playoffs.

The new tools helped general manager James Jones and the rest of the coaching staff better evaluate player performance and adapt in real time. Ryan Resh, the Suns’ head of data analytics, credits 5G with “pushing the NBA’s boundaries” regarding how the coaches train and teach their athletes.

The Suns’ use of 5G is an example of one of the many different applications of the wireless technology beyond higher speeds on your phone. The technology, rolling out across the globe, is expected to transform many industries, including sports. Professional and college teams are installing 5G in stadiums and arenas to improve the on-site experience, and apps are emerging that let fans view replays from different angles or feel like they’re a part of the action. Teams are exploring ways to use 5G to improve the performance of the athletes themselves by quickly collecting huge amounts of data — something that isn’t possible with 4G or Wi-Fi.

“5G is allowing us to … take those movements and those analyses and make them so real-time that the process just becomes iterative and seamlessly flows into the working procedure of our coaches and our players,” Resh said in an interview.

While sports teams have been using analytics to improve player performance nearly as long as sports have existed, 5G is emerging as a new way to make that analysis even more effective. The key is the technology’s high speed and low latency. Cameras and sensors can collect data and provide insight in real time, letting coaches instruct their players on the fly or detect injuries before they become bigger problems. For the Suns, the intersection between 5G and athletics made its mark this NBA season.

“The 5G lab keeps the Suns on the cutting edge,” Jones said in a statement. “That cohesion provides our staff with unparalleled opportunities to efficiently unlock each athlete’s fullest potential.”

The need for real-time data is becoming more and more important in sports. Prior to the rollout of 5G and installation of sensors and cameras in arenas, players were used to waiting until the next day to review film highlighting in-game mistakes. While players and coaches still review film after games, the 5G lab offers data within milliseconds — something that once took several minutes to calculate.

“Coaching has been around for thousands of years, where coaches go out there and with their gut, they watch things,” Brian Mecum, vice president of device technology for Verizon, said in an interview. “Well, how about if we trust data, and how about if we flip it and trust what science is telling us by what it can measure?”

While Verizon is building 5G in more than 60 stadiums and arenas, its partnership with the Phoenix Suns is different. No other team working with Verizon uses 5G to help with real-time analytics.

5G helps the Suns coaching staff quickly gather and crunch data from three different tools. With a technology called Noah, the players are able to get real-time feedback, live and automated in-game data, and in-depth post-practice and game analytics. For instance, the practice center’s hoop is equipped with sensors that allow Noah to track the arch consistency, the depth and the left and right trajectory of the ball. Coaches will be able to compare subpar performance against a player’s peak, letting them know instantly what places or situations on a court have the best odds for sinking a shot.

“It gets down to centimeter accuracy, and it also has the ability to look at things in three dimensions [along] the X, the Y and the Z axis,” Verizon’s Mecum said. A player may not be able to tell in real time why their shots aren’t going in without the in-depth arc and angle analysis Noah provides.

“This team took and learned that sometimes players were spending too much time shooting, for example, they were taking too many shots and that was affecting the effectiveness of their shots,” Mecum said.

Adding Noah to the Sun’s practice facility has shown real results for the team. One younger player had a tough time consistently sinking his shots. With Noah and the tracking sensors installed in the rafters above the hoop, the coaching staff was able to show the player where his jump shots typically landed and where his performance was the weakest.

“That was enlightening to him because it allowed him to accept that his mechanics may not be as consistent as he wants them to be, which is not something that you really feel, in real time,” Resh said. “His work did eventually pay off in the playoffs, and he was our best three-point shooter.”

Another analytics source used by the Suns is called ShotTracker. Players and coaches are able to use a sensor-based system that generates shooting analytics stats to teams — and fans — thanks to a sensor placed on the ball. Players must also wear a small tracking device, and there are sensors in the rafters above the rim to pinpoint the location of the shot. Specifically, more than 100 sensors communicate to the coaches in real time what players are doing (or not). This allows both players and coaches to go back and review how many shots were taken and exactly where they were shot.

The final piece of the Suns’ technology expansion relates to lateral movement off the court. With the help of Simi’s motion capture cameras, coaches are able to track players’ abilities both before and after injuries. A returning player may feel they are back to normal, but coaches are able to see in real time if the player is healed or not by comparing the post-injury performance to the player’s baseline. The Suns are using Simi in the weight room to track static movements — but have hopes to one day use Simi to predict how players move on the court.

In the practice facilities, the Suns’ are also using Bertec’s 3D force plates in combination with Simi’s cameras. The Bertec plates, which players stand on, are able to track a player’s gait, jump and balance while Simi captures the movement in real time. Simi shows the coaches, the movement, while the Bertec plates provide data about pressure and other characteristics.

“While Wi-Fi can accomplish that, what 5G does is it makes it so fast [and] the latency is so low, that as soon as a player is done jumping, [the data is] there in front of them,” Resh said

Latency is the response or lag time between sending a signal and receiving one back, and 5G’s shorter latency is how it makes a difference in sports analytics.

“You want to reduce the delay as much as you can to give [people] real-time experiences,” said Technalysis Research analyst Bob O’Donnell. “Every little bit helps.”

3G networks had latencies in the hundreds of milliseconds, which is an appreciable fraction of a second. 4G networks, which enabled smartphones and all of the apps we use today, started with latencies of about 100 milliseconds and now are down to a range of about 30 milliseconds to 70 milliseconds. 5G aims to get to 1 millisecond, but it’s currently at about 20 milliseconds to 30 milliseconds, which is faster than the human eye blinks, Verizon’s Mecum said.

Fans are able to view a game from multiple camera angles.

An essential piece of the Suns’ practice facilities and arena is their use of millimeter wave 5G. MmWave is a band of radio airwaves that provides super-high speeds but can only travel short distances and gets blocked by objects like windows and trees. For sporting venues, though, those downsides aren’t an issue. Teams can easily install towers where needed in stadiums and arenas. MmWave’s ability to handle a huge number of devices on one network, at the same time, is ideal for fans during a game.

With the Suns’ stadium app, fans are able to receive feedback similar to what the coaches see while watching the game. The app is available to users with or without 5G phones. Seven different camera angles let fans view replays and real-time stats on the players. The app is available both in the stadium and at home. “You can go back and look at replays, and you’re in control instead of waiting for the jumbotron,” Mecum said.

Suns’ players and coaches are also able to get real-time feedback that lets them make live adjustments. The speeds needed to interpret this data captured during the Suns’ practice is only available over 5G, the coaching staff says. Neither Wi-Fi nor 4G can produce the results as quickly.

For now, the Suns are only using real-time analysis over 5G in the team’s practice facility. The NBA has strict guidelines surrounding what data collection is available in-game and doesn’t allow the kind of analysis the Suns perform in the practice facility.

The Suns aren’t the only ones interested in the numbers. Sports analytics bridges the gap between team stats and interpretation. When teams crunch data, the goal is almost always to figure out where performance fell short. After establishing areas in need of improvement, teams can optimize practice time using the data found from analytics. It’s a big business — the global sports analytics market size is expected to grow from $1.9 billion in 2019 to $5.2 billion by 2024, according to a report from MarketsandMarkets.

“When you are a professional athlete, standing on your feet just moving around a basketball court is actually considered work,” Resh said. “When you don’t have a ton of time to practice, you have to make your practices as efficient as possible.”

As the intersection between sports and analytics continues to grow, there is a need for 5G and real-time data, said Creative Strategies analyst Ben Bajarin. Many sporting venues are incorporating 5G and mmWave to receive feedback as quickly as possible.

Perhaps the best-known example of sports analytics was captured in the 2011 film Moneyball. The movie, based on the Oakland Athletics baseball team, explained how analysis and statistics alone could lead to victories.

Brad Pitt played then-A’s general manager Billy Beane, who put together a winning team utilizing analytics and minimal funding. He studied sabermetrics, “the objective knowledge about baseball,” to rebuild the team on a low budget. Through studying these analytics, he led his team to a 20-game winning streak, the longest one in franchise history.

While the Suns can use 5G to track performance in the practice arena, the coaches aren’t able to do such analysis in the arena. Instead, Second Spectrum exclusively partners with the NBA, as well as soccer’s Premier League and Major League Soccer, to provide in-game player tracking.

After an initial response, Second Spectrum didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Players, coaches and fans can use Second Spectrum to access years of game history and find game playbacks within seconds. The company uses machine learning and computer vision to form a tracking system. It’s able to collect 3D data live from cameras within the arenas and then generate reports showing player location, player stats and the type of play in progress.

Even though the Suns didn’t come out on top this season, the conversation around what 5G has provided is just beginning.

“That real-time feedback is what we found to be the best method of teaching and learning for our players and for our coaches,” Resh said.

CNET’s Shara Tibken contributed to this report.

Correction, 11:19 a.m. PT: This story initially misstated the Phoenix Suns’ history with the NBA Finals. The team has made it three times, in 1976, 1993 and 2021, losing each time four games to two.