How to Watch the 2018 Kentucky Derby for Free on TV or Live Streaming

May 5, 2018, 9:59 AM UTC

The Kentucky Derby horses are filing into Churchill Downs for horse racing’s most exciting annual event. Meanwhile, in living rooms and off-track betting offices around the world, people are placing their bets and gathering around their televisions—but will they be able to watch the race?

Cable subscribers are cutting the cord at a faster pace than ever before, which means that casual television viewers may not have what it takes to watch the Kentucky Derby online, on cable, or over the air. If this sounds like you, fear not. With either a digital antenna or a trial subscription to a streaming television service, you can watch the 2018 Kentucky Derby for free. Here’s how.

Get a digital television antenna

Knowledge is power when it comes to gaming the pay television scheme, so start by figuring out what channel the Kentucky Derby is on. NBC has the broadcast rights to the horse race, and even though the network is owned by Comcast, you can still watch it for free, with the right equipment. Start by buying a digital television antenna, a device that can grab over-the-air television signals and display them on your flatscreen, just like bunny-ear antennas did it in TV’s Golden Age. Since NBC is a broadcast network, you should be able to watch the Kentucky Derby live, for free, as long as you have one of these antennas plugged into your television.

Try DirecTV Now for free

Subscribing to a streaming service just to watch the Kentucky Derby online may seem like a bad bet, but with DirecTV Now‘s seven-day free trial, you can tack on a few extra days of entertainment, gratis, before any payments would kick in. The company’s base streaming television service costs $35 per month—currently $10 for the first three months with a special offer—for a package that includes more than 60 live channels. This base-level plan includes NBC, as well as local affiliates for CBS, and FOX. But before you sign up, check DirecTV Now’s local channel availability here, because not every market includes every station, and you don’t want to miss out on watching the big race.

Watch the horses run with Hulu

Most people think of Hulu as a place to watch on-demand shows, but Hulu with Live TV also works as advertised, delivering NBC—the channel the Kentucky Derby in on—among other networks. Also offering a seven-day free trial, Hulu with Live TV costs more than DirecTV Now at $39-per-month once the free run ends, but it also includes 50 hours of cloud DVR service per month. That means if you happen to hit the Kentucky Derby trifecta, and you want to re-watch the moment you beat the odds, you can.

Sling TV won’t break the bank

If you’re thinking of sticking with a low-cost streaming television service after the Kentucky Derby final results are announced, the odds are that Sling TV will be a winner for you. Also offering a seven-day free preview, Sling TV offers service as low as $20 per month for 30 channels, but if you want to get NBC, which is where the Kentucky Derby is airing, you’ll have to sign up for the 45-channel package that costs $25 monthly. But again, before you commit, check to see if NBC is included. Like with DirectTV Now, local affiliates are only available in select markets on Sling TV.

The Derby makes YouTube TV a sure bet

Another streaming television service worth looking into before the Kentucky Derby’s start is Google’s YouTube TV. Most people think of YouTube for its popular video-hosting website, but the live, online television service offers a lot more than just cat videos. Coming with a seven-day free trial and more than 50 channels of programming, along with unlimited cloud DVR capability for $40 per month (after the promotion ends) YouTube TV, also includes all the major networks—not just NBC, but also CBS and FOX. But the catch with live streaming the Kentucky Derby on YouTube TV is that Google’s service is only available in select markets, although has been expanded to quite a few cities.