Streaming Live Sports: How to Create the Best At-Home Viewing Experience

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Originally published in The Gazette on Sunday, March 24. 

March college basketball ranks among the most-streamed live sporting events, right alongside the Masters or the World Series. In 2024, 43% of people plan to stream the NCAA tournament on their TV, phone, or tablet.  

Unless you scored tickets to a March tournament game, you’ll probably be among that 43% watching the tournament live from your couch.  

To catch every second of the action in real time, you need the proper Internet and smart TV setup. This article explores three ways to enhance your at-home sports streaming experience, so you feel like you’re sitting courtside.  


  1. Upgrade to a better type of Internet. 

Your streaming video quality depends entirely on your Internet. It’s especially true with live sports, where video data is being captured at the game and distributed hundreds of miles to your smart TV within seconds. 

Not every type of Internet is equipped to handle such fast data transmission. Here’s how several popular types of Internet compare for streaming. 


Cable Internet offers speeds from 10Mbps to 1,000 Mbps. In Iowa, where cable is predominant, the average household has a download speed of just 138Mbps – the 8th lowest in the nation.  

138 Mbps is still sufficient for streaming live sports. But with cable, you may experience slower speeds during peak usage times – like when your neighbors are also streaming the same tournament games as you.  

Cable Internet operates on a shared connection with your neighbors. When too many people in your area are trying to use the Internet at once, it causes “traffic congestion” on the network – like a virtual traffic jam. 

So even if your cable Internet usually works fine for streaming, you may experience glitches during popular games. The tournament moves fast, and even a 2-second glitch can make you miss a game-changing moment. 

5G Home Internet 

5G home Internet, which uses a mobile carrier’s 5G cellphone network, averages 50 – 300Mpbs download speeds – plenty fast for streaming.  

However, it has many of the same pitfalls as cable, including network congestion and speed slowdowns during peak usage times.  

5G home Internet is also more susceptible to weather interference. 5G signals travels along airwaves from the cell tower to your home. These airwaves can be interrupted by heavy rains or fog – which is not uncommon during spring in Iowa – causing your livestream to lag.  


Fiber Internet is considered the best type of Internet for streaming. It provides the fastest speeds – up to 1,000Mbps (1Gbps) – which can keep up with streaming live sports, even when other people in your home are online. 

With fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) Internet, your house is directly connected to the provider’s network with its own fiber line. This means no sharing connections with the neighbors. You’ll maintain consistently fast speeds, no matter how many of your neighbors are also streaming March basketball games. 

Fiber is also the most reliable Internet. It’s resistant to factors that interfere with 5G and cable, like weather. 

Plus, fiber has the lowest latency – the time it takes for Internet data to travel from Point A to Point B. Lower latency means less delays, so your video feed doesn’t fall too far behind the live action.  

Fiber has an ultra-low latency of just 12 milliseconds, so you can enjoy buffer-free streaming, crystal-clear video, and real-time gameplay, from tip-off to buzzer-beater.  


  1. Find the right Internet speed. 

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recommends a minimum of 25Mbps for 4K streaming.  

Many sports streaming platforms have similar recommendations, though some are lower. YouTube TV also suggests 25Mpbs for 4K, but Hulu recommends 8Mbps. ESPN+ and Max suggest even lower, 2–3 Mbps.  

Remember that these are the absolute minimum speeds required. The faster your Internet, the less chance of glitching and delay. If you want the ultimate immersive game-watching experience, you’ll want higher-than-minimum speeds.  

These numbers only speak to the speed you need to livestream, not the total Internet speed your household needs. Watching a game on YouTube TV requires 25 Mbps – but if your family is scrolling on social media, gaming, or streaming in another room, their activity will cut into the total bandwidth, reducing the amount of speed available to stream your game. 

To account for other online activities in your home, experts recommend a minimum of 100Mbps for streaming live sports.  


  1. Fine-tune your Wi-Fi placement and settings. 

Fast Internet coming into your home only matters if your router can distribute that strong, fast signal to your devices. 

Many providers, like ImOn Communications, offer Whole Home Wi-Fi with their fiber Internet service. This is done using an advanced modem/router combo that distributes a strong Wi-Fi signal to every corner of your home, eliminating the need for Wi-Fi boosters.  

To capitalize on Whole Home Wi-Fi for the fastest streaming, it’s important to place your router in a central, unobstructed place that benefits the whole house. Tucking your router away in the basement means the signal has to travel through walls, floors, and other furniture to reach your devices. This interference slows down the signal.  

Another trick to boost your Wi-Fi strength is to change your frequency. Most Wi-Fi routers use two radio frequencies to transmit data to connected devices: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz.  

2.4 GHz covers larger areas at a lower speed. This is the frequency that most of your devices probably use, since it’s often the default network.  

5 GHz covers smaller areas at a faster speed. It’s designed for activities that require high bandwidth, and it’s less prone to interference. Switch your smart TV over to your 5GHz network to unlock higher speeds with less interruption.  

No matter what team you’re cheering for, streaming live sports on FTTH Internet is the closest fans can get to real-time, in-the-stands action. Luckily, ImOn’s FTTH Internet covers nearly 90,000 homes in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, and Dubuque.  


To see if fiber Internet is available at your home, reach out to ImOn at 319-298-6484 or visit our address finder. We are happy to talk through your home Internet options based on your streaming needs.