Here’s how to stream the 2016 Masters without pay TV… for free

The Masters, the real kickoff to the golf season, is only a week away and it’s time to start strategizing how you’re going to maximize your viewing time despite some of those pesky obstacles that get in the way, like work, your own golf game, family and that annoying $170 pay-TV bill you don’t want to pay.

One word: Streaming.

You don’t need to plant yourself in front of the TV set to stream the April 4-10 event, almost all of it is available on the Internet, and if your timing is right, you can watch it for free, from Monday on the range to the Wednesday Par 3 contest (the one Rory McIlroy is sitting out this year) to the donning of the Green jacket Sunday evening. It can all be streamed to your TV, computers and, of course, mobile devices. (I suggest a tablet instead of your smartphone so you can actually see the ball in flight.)

YOUR STREAMING OPTIONS

Sling TV:

Sling TV has ESPN. ESPN has the Masters, at least the first couple of rounds, anyway.

ESPN also is providing live coverage of the Par 3 Contest, sans Rory, from 3-5 p.m., Wednesday.

ESPN is carrying the first two days of the tournament on Thursday and Friday. Those are the days when you have a chance to see the pros that are struggling a bit hitting the kind of shots we mortals do on a regular basis. Interestingly, those shots, the ones that keep them from making the cut, elicit similar responses, muttering, head shaking, deep stares at the offending club and, well, use your imagination.

Occasionally, you’ll even see a four putt on a Thursday that will look remarkable similar to the four-putts you’re used to. Revel in their struggles.

Coverage begins at 3 p.m. and is set to go through 7:30 p.m.

ESPN also offers a three-hour replay both days from 8-11 p.m.

Sling TV runs $20 a month, can be watched on your connected TV, on computers and, of course, on tablets and smartphones.

The service currently is running a deal that includes a free Roku 2 set-top box if you sign up for three months.

An even better deal, if you’re not into commitments? Sling TV offers a 7-day free trial.

But, Sling TV doesn’t have rights to CBS, a “must have” for the final two days of the Masters.

PlayStation Vue

Another option, of course, is Sony’s PlayStation Vue. It rolled out nationwide in March and offers, like Sling TV, ESPN live programming as well (along with about 55 other channels) for $30/mo. Caveat – you need a PlayStation or Amazon Fire TV device to sign up, watch, after which you can use an iOS device, too. Vue does have an advantage over Sling TV in that you get a cloud-based DVR on which you can save content for up to 28 days an watch it when you’re ready. Yep, Vue is another service with a 7-day free trial.

But, unless you live in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco or Miami, you don’t have access to live CBS content.

You’ll need another alternative.

CBS All Access

In the end, the Masters is still a CBS event, a place where you go to see golf produced the old-fashioned way (and, in this case, that’s a very good thing).

To catch the final two days of the event, the days that really matter, you’ll have to go to the Eye Network.

And, thanks to the CBS All Access streaming product, you can get a taste of early action – and the final two rounds right down to the awarding of the Green Jacket.

Coverage starts at 3 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday.

All week long, CBS also offers highlights of the days events in a wrap up at 11:30.

CBS All Access launched with only a handful of live markets, but now can be watched live – including the Masters – in 126 markets. It costs $6/mo., and, yes, you can try it out free for a week, too.

Masters.com

There is plenty of video available throughout the week at Masters.com, with features, highlights, interviews and replays.

The website also offers you the ability to follow a player’s shots and position data throughout the tournament. (And, yes, there are people who do that.)

You also can catch some video action from the range all week long as well as some of the Par 3 contest.

Starting Thursday, you can watch play at Amen Corner starting about 7:45 a.m., on Holes 15 & 16 starting at 11:45 a.m. and some featured groups starting at noon.

Stay tuned.

Jim O’Neill is Editor of Videomind and Principal Analyst at Brightcove. You can follow him on Twitter @JimONeillMedia and on LinkedIn