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.

Naomi Osaka drops out of Wimbledon

The withdrawal follows Osaka’s exit from the French Open last month.

Naomi Osaka serves in a tennis match at the French Open on May 30.

“Naomi Osaka will be greatly missed by all of us at Wimbledon this year, but we completely understand her decision,” Wimbledon told CNET in an emailed statement. “We wish her a happy time with her friends and family and look forward to welcoming her back to Wimbledon next year.”

The withdrawal follows Osaka dropping out of the French Open in May after facing a $15,000 fine from tournament organizers for declining to take part in media interviews. Osaka had cited mental health reasons for not wanting to meet with the press during the tennis tournament.

“I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris,” Osaka, 23, wrote in a statement describing her struggles with depression. “I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly. The truth is that I have suffered long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018.”

Wimbledon is slated to take place from June 28 until July 11. Tournament organizers didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

NFL 2021: How to watch Packers vs. Ravens, Saints vs. Buccaneers, RedZone and Week 15 on Sunday

The NFL action continues on Sunday.

Here’s how to watch Sunday’s games, as well as the rest of the NFL season, with or without cable.

Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on Sunday Night Football tonight.

Major streaming providers such as YouTube TV, Hulu Plus Live TV, FuboTV and DirecTV Stream offer nearly all the major channels you will need for football. This includes CBS, NBC and Fox, as well as ESPN, which is needed for Monday Night Football.

Sling TV offers NBC and Fox in some markets with its Blue package, but it lacks CBS. It’s also worth noting that to get ESPN you will either need to switch to its Orange package or go for its Blue and Orange bundle.

Those who are fine with watching on phones or tablets, meanwhile, can also use the Yahoo Sports app to stream the games that are broadcast on your local stations for free.

All of those services above, with the exception of DirecTV Stream, offer the option to get RedZone and the NFL Network. RedZone will usually require you to spend another $10 or $11 per month as an add-on.

If RedZone is all you care about, the cheapest option is getting Sling TV Blue for $35 a month and adding the $11-per-month Sports Extra add-on. This gets you all the football channels with the exception of ESPN and CBS.

If you do have cable or satellite, here is where you can find the NFL Network on a few of the bigger providers. Note: The exact channel numbers may change depending on your area, so for best results check your channel guide.

Most Thursday Night Football games will be broadcast on Fox, NFL Network and Amazon Prime Video. Check out the full Thursday Night Football schedule here and our recommendations for the best ways to watch NFL without cable throughout the season.

Paramount Plus offers live CBS feeds with its Premium tier for $10 a month. Depending on where you live, however, your local CBS station (and those NFL games) might not be available. CBS offers livestreaming services in many markets; you can check if your area has live CBS streaming here.

All of NBC’s regular-season NFL games will be available to stream on its Peacock streaming service, so long as you pay for one of its Premium subscriptions.

There are two of these tiers, a $5-a-month Premium option that has ads (when watching nonlive content) and a $10-per-month Premium Plus option that will stream nonlive content ad-free (and let you download some content to watch offline).

YouTube TV costs $65 a month and includes all the major football channels, with RedZone available for an extra $11 a month. Plug in your ZIP code on its welcome page to see which local networks are available in your area.

Note that YouTube TV is offering a $15 discount, bringing the price down to $50 per month, during its contract dispute with Disney.

Read our YouTube TV review.

Hulu with Live TV costs $65 a month and includes all the major football channels, with RedZone available for an extra $10 a month. 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 has all the major NFL channels with RedZone available as an $11-per-month add-on. Click here to see which local channels you get.

Read our FuboTV review.

Sling TV’s $35-a-month Blue plan includes NBC, Fox and the NFL Network. Enter your address here to see which local channels are available where you live.

Note: This version of Sling TV does not include ESPN. For that, you’ll need to switch to the similarly priced Orange plan or go for the combined $50-per-month Orange and Blue bundle. RedZone is also available for an extra $11 a month.

Read our Sling TV review.

Formerly AT&T TV, DirecTV Stream’s basic $70-a-month package includes nearly all the major channels for football with the notable exceptions of RedZone and the NFL Network. You can use its channel lookup tool to see which local channels are available where you live.

Read our DirecTV Stream review.

Those looking for CBS games will be able to stream them on Paramount Plus with its $10 per month Premium tier. You can check for yourself if your area has live CBS streaming here.

Peacock will show NBC’s full slate of Sunday Night Football games. You will, however, need one of the service’s Premium plans to watch Sunday Night Football live and full-game replays, though highlights are available on the free tier.

The ad-supported Premium plan costs $5 a month, and the ad-free Premium Plus plan costs $10 a month.

Read our Peacock review.

Most Thursday Night games will be available on Amazon Prime Video. For millions of Amazon Prime subscribers, the Prime Video channel is already included at no extra cost. But if you’re not a subscriber, it might be worth it to shell out the $9 a month for the stand-alone TV service fee.

All of the live TV streaming services above offer free trials (except Peacock, which just has a free tier that doesn’t stream live NFL games), allow you to cancel anytime and require a solid internet connection. Looking for more information? Check out our live-TV streaming services guide.

King Richard trailer: Will Smith aces as dad of Venus and Serena Williams

The Men in Black star plays Richard Williams, who drew up a 78-page plan for his daughters’ success before they were even born.

Will Smith plays Richard Williams, dad of tennis legends Venus and Serena, in King Richard. Aunjanue Ellis plays their mom, Oracene (far left). Also shown, from left, are Mikayla Bartholomew as Tunde Price, the girls’ half-sister, Saniyya Sidney as Venus, Demi Singleton as Serena, and Daniele Lawson as another half-sister, Isha Price.

In one scene, he tells his daughters that they’re representing “every little Black girl on Earth.” No pressure. But anyone who knows the Williams’ sisters story knows they lived up to it, and then some. Serena Williams has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles, Venus Williams has won seven, the two have won 14 as a doubles team, and they’re also Olympic gold medalists.

“This world ain’t never had no respect for Richard Williams,” Smith’s character says in one scene. “But they gon’ respect y’all.”

Will Smith, Venus Williams and Serena Williams are among the film’s producers. Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton play the Williams sisters. King Richard opens in theaters on Nov. 19, and will be available for streaming on HBO Max’s ad-free platform 31 days.

Masters 2021 golf: TV schedule, watch the final round of the tournament live today

The PGA’s premier event concludes on CBS today, and you can stream all the action, no cable required.

The Masters golf tournament concludes on Sunday, April 11. The final round is going on now, and you can follow the action on Masters.com and CBSSports.com. Live TV coverage runs from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET (11 a.m. to 4 p.m. PT) on CBS. Here’s how to watch.

Hideki Matsuyama is trying to become the first Japanese man to win a major title.

On the Masters website or mobile app, you can stream live without having to sign in with a pay TV provider. You can also watch a livestream of the Masters on CBSSports.com or the CBS Sports app, also without needing pay TV credentials. The Masters site will have the TV simulcast livestream all day, with the following highlights.

Live TV coverage starts at 2 p.m. ET (11 a.m. PT) on CBS. If you don’t have a cable or satellite TV subscription, you can watch the final round of the Masters with a live TV streaming service. Four of the five major ones (all but Sling TV) offer CBS. A fifth service, Paramount Plus, also carries the tournament. The catch is that not every service carries every local network, so check each one using the links below to make sure it carries CBS in your area.

If you live in an area with good reception, you can watch the final round on CBS for free on over-the-air broadcast channels just by attaching an affordable (under $30) indoor antenna to nearly any TV.

You can watch the last round of the Masters on CBS’s online streaming service. Paramount Plus costs $6 a month with ads or $10 a month without ads.

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

Read our YouTube TV review.

Hulu with Live TV costs $65 a month and includes CBS. 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’s Standard plan costs $65 a month and includes CBS. Click here to see which local channels you get.

Read our FuboTV review.

AT&T TV’s basic $70-a-month package includes CBS. You can use its channel lookup tool to see which local channels are available where you live.

Read our AT&T TV Now 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 massive streaming services guide.

Logan Paul vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr.: Main event start time, how to watch or stream online

Logan Paul is facing Floyd Mayweather Jr. in what might be one of the weirdest boxing matches ever.

These two fight in a matter of hours…

In the US, the PPV starts at 8 p.m. EDT (5 p.m. PDT) on Sunday, June 6.
In the UK, the PPV starts at 1 a.m. BST on Monday, June 7.
In Australia, the PPV starts at 10 a.m. AEST on Monday June 7.

The main event will not start until at least 10 p.m. EDT (5 p.m. PDT). That’s 3 a.m. BST in the UK and 12 midday in AEST.

You can watch the final, post weigh-in staredown below.

The easiest way to watch online is via Fanmio.

Those who want to see the fight will need to get pay-per-view access. A ticket to watch the fight comes with a T-shirt and costs $49.99 (£36, AU$64).

Fanmio’s site says that 20 US residents who sign up for Fanmio will also get a video meet-and-greet with the fighters — and the giveaway rules say those winners do not have to buy the fight to enter the drawing.

There are other ways to watch, however.

In the US you can pay Mayweather’s usual partner Showtime $49.99 to watch the fight.

In the UK you can watch via Sky Sports Box Office for a relatively cheap £16.95.

In Australia you can watch via Main Event for AU$49.95, which cheaper than you’ll be paying on Fanmio, but you’ll need access to Foxtel to access Main Event, which makes things trickier. If you don’t already have a Foxtel subscription, best to just go the Fanmio route.

This special exhibition is slated for eight rounds, each three minutes long. Both fighters will wear 12-ounce gloves.

On Saturday night, Logan Paul weighed in at 189.5 pounds and Mayweather at 155. Per his contract, Paul had to weigh in at 190 pounds or less for the fight, otherwise he would have been fined an eye-watering $100,000 for every pound he went overweight. Mayweather had to cap at 160. Mayweather faces a massive size disadvantage. Paul is around 6 foot 2 inches with a 76-inch reach, while Mayweather is around 5 foot 8 inches with a 72-inch reach.

Given the fight is an exhibition, it’s been confirmed there will be no judges. Knockouts are legal and are to the judge’s discretion. If the contest plays out to its conclusion there will be no official judges result, the Florida State Boxing Commission told Sky News.

It’s a pretty lean one, only four fights…

Logan Paul is going to box Floyd Mayweather.

The 26-year-old Ohio native and his brother, Jake, first became famous for their Vine and YouTube videos. Paul then moved to LA and dabbled in all sorts of forms of entertainment, from acting to running a clothing line. He’s not without controversy: In 2018, he was heavily criticized for filming a dead body in a Japanese forest known as a location for suicide and YouTube has yanked ads from his channel for questionable content in the past. But his fans don’t seem to care: His YouTube channel has more than 22 million subscribers.

As for sports, Paul was a high-school athlete, participating in wrestling and football. But his boxing record isn’t exactly long. In 2018, he fought British YouTuber KSI (real name: Olajide William Olatunji) to a majority draw in what was considered an amateur match. In 2019, the two held a rematch that was considered a professional bout, ending in a split decision victory for KSI. So with zero victories to his credit, he’s decided to … take on a famous undefeated boxer. As you do.

Mayweather is the best boxer of his generation.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. is quite a bit older than Paul, at 44. And he’s much, much more experienced in the ring. He won 15 major world titles in five weight classes, with a 50-0 record in the sport, a bronze medal in the 1996 Olympics, and three US Golden Gloves championships, among other titles. (Note that he won that Olympic medal when Logan Paul was just a year old.)

So why, then, is the undefeated former champ taking on a YouTuber who’s never won a fight? It’s not about the boxing — the fight won’t count anywhere, it’s an exhibition. Think those two irresistible elements: Money and fame.

“It’s likely that only the promise of another lucrative payday could convince ‘Money’ Mayweather to put on his gloves again, and Paul provides an opponent with major name recognition despite a paucity of boxing experience,” the Washington Post reported. The newspaper noted that for Paul, it’s not about who wins, but about the exposure, which makes him even more famous and opens up more opportunities and future paydays.

That’s the bare essentials, but if you want to catch up on the juicy, possibly manufactured drama in the lead up to the fight… keep reading.

No, that is not a typo. 

Despite the fact Floyd Mayweather is fighting his brother Logan Paul, Jake Paul got into quite the situation with Mayweather, by stealing his baseball cap after a press conference for the Logan Paul vs. Floyd Mayweather fight.

The above Twitter thread shows most of the best footage. Jake Paul and Mayweather had a confrontation, they talked back and forth about a fight between them, Jake Paul snatched up Mayweather’s hat and then… all hell broke loose.

Regardless of whether it was a publicity stunt or not this has stirred up quite an amount of attention on social media.

Everyone is going to make a lot of money.

Part of the appeal of this is it’s hard to know what to expect. The most obvious outcome is Mayweather outboxing Paul and potentially knocking him out. But Mayweather is 44 and he is giving up at least 30 pounds in weight. It’s hard to imagine that Logan Paul will even touch Mayweather given his defensive prowess, but we haven’t seen him fight since the McGregor fight and that was almost four years ago.

Here are some clips of them training.

Floyd seems confident.

“These guys have done a great job fooling the public that they are real fighters,” he said. “I ain’t got to use my A game, my B game, my C game. I can use my Z game. Don’t even gotta hit him hard.”

Sounds ominous.

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.

NHL Stanley Cup Finals: Stream Canadiens vs. Lightning Game 5 live tonight

If they win, the Lightning will become the NHL Champions for a second straight year. The game streams on NBC and Peacock, no cable required.

Brett Kulak and the Montreal Canadiens (right) hope to hold off the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5 tonight.

Read more: NBA Finals 2021: How to watch, stream Bucks vs. Suns without cable

The Lightning has the home-ice advantage by virtue of finishing the regular season with a better record than the Canadiens. The series opened in Tampa Bay for the first two games, Games 3 and 4 took place in Montreal and afterward home ice alternates every game. Here’s the full remaining schedule:

*If necessary.

You don’t need cable or satellite TV to watch the action on the ice. The most affordable streaming option is NBC’s Peacock service, which will carry the entire series live. Peacock’s basic tier is free, but to watch the Stanley Cup Finals you’ll need to subscribe to the Premium version starting at $5 per month.

The remainder of the series will also be carried on NBC, which is available on most major live TV streaming services. The catch is that not every service carries every local network, so check each one using the links below to make sure it carries NBC in your area.

If you live in an area with good reception, you can watch the games on NBC for free on over-the-air broadcast channels just by attaching an affordable (under $30) indoor antenna to nearly any TV.

Peacock offers three tiers: a limited free plan and two Premium plans. The ad-supported Premium plan costs $5 a month, and the ad-free Premium plan costs $10 a month. You need one of the Premium plans to watch the Stanley Cup Finals games live and full-game replays, though highlights are available on the free tier. Read our Peacock review.

Sling TV’s $35-a-month Blue package includes NBC, but NBC is available in only a handful of areas.

Read our Sling TV review.

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

Read our YouTube TV review.

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

Read our FuboTV review.

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

AT&T TV’s basic $70-a-month package includes NBC. You can use its channel lookup tool to see which local channels are available where you live.

Read our AT&T TV Now review.

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.

March Madness Championship: How to stream Baylor vs. Gonzaga tonight on CBS

The final showdown in the NCAA’s men’s March Madness tournament takes place tonight.

The biggest game of the Big Dance airs tonight on CBS at 9:20 p.m. ET (6:20 p.m. PT). Here’s what you need to know about the 2021 men’s tournament.

Jalen Suggs, No. 1, celebrates with his Gonzaga teammates after making a game-winning three-pointer in overtime during the 2021 NCAA Final Four semifinal.

Tip-off for tonight’s contest is set for 9:20 p.m. ET (6:20 p.m. PT) on CBS.

Gonzaga, Baylor, Michigan and Illinois were the top teams in the tournament, each a No. 1 seed in their respective regions. After Illinois was knocked out early in the tourney, Michigan lost to UCLA in the Elite Eight, leaving just Gonzaga and Baylor as the only top seeds standing heading into the Final Four.

Those two teams will play for the title Monday night, but those looking to relive the tourney can find the full bracket on the NCAA’s website.

Yes, you can.

Live TV streaming services YouTube TV, Hulu Plus Live TV, FuboTV and AT&T TV all offer CBS, which is what you’ll need to catch the final game. They start at $65 per month ($70 per month for AT&T). Cheaper streaming services like Sling TV’s $35 per month Orange and Blue packages do not have CBS.

You can also get CBS with an antenna or with Paramount Plus, the new name for CBS All Access, a streaming service that runs $6 per month.

The game will be available to stream on the NCAA’s March Madness Live website and app, with the tournament’s CBS-broadcasted games — including tonight’s championship decider — available for free without needing to first authenticate with a cable provider.

YouTube TV costs $65 a month and includes CBS. Plug in your ZIP code on its welcome page to see what live, local networks are available where you live.

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

AT&T TV’s basic, $70-a-month package includes CBS. You can use its channel lookup tool to see if you get a live feed of CBS and the other local networks in your ZIP code.

You can watch the CBS games on Paramount Plus (formerly known as CBS All Access), if you live in one of these 206 markets where the service offers live TV. Paramount Plus costs $6 a month or $10 a month for no commercials.

FuboTV costs $60 a month and includes CBS. Click here to see which local channels you get.

Outside the US? Consider using a VPN: CNET editors choose the best VPN

The NCAA took a number of precautions to protect players, coaches and fans and to reduce the potential for COVID-19 to disrupt play. Usually, the tournament is spread all across the country in various venues, but this year, to reduce travel, all 67 men’s games are taking place in Indiana with the bulk of the action happening in Indianapolis. Teams were also required to quarantine upon arrival, and in-person attendance by fans is limited to 25% capacity to allow physical distancing.

COVID-19 also has impacted some games, with Oregon advancing past VCU in the first round due to the Rams’ having multiple positive tests.

Per the NCAA, this year’s tournament was played on two courts inside Lucas Oil Stadium (home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts) plus Bankers Life Fieldhouse (home of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers), Hinkle Fieldhouse (Butler’s stadium), Indiana Farmers Coliseum (home of the IUPUI Jaguars), Mackey Arena in West Lafayette (Purdue’s arena) and Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington (home of the Indiana Hoosiers).

The National Championship will take place at Lucas Oil Stadium.

On March 18, the NCAA tweeted out more images of this year’s floor layout for the courts at Lucas Oil Stadium.