You won’t have to pay for sports anymore thanks to a new internet TV bundle

For decades, TV consumers have had to pay a premium for sports whether they want to or not.

A new bundle could end all that.

A group of cable companies are banding together to introduce a new streaming service that will feature cable TV content without sports, a proposition that has been rumored for months.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday evening that Discovery, Viacom, AMC, A+E and Scripps—which together control a variety of the major cable channels—have reached an agreement and that its new service will see a “soft launch” in the next few weeks.

The service is slated to cost less than $20 a month, a competitive price to other options that tend to cost around $35. SlingTV is among the cheapest with a $20 plan.

The list of internet TV options has been growing steadily in the past few years, as have the number of Netflix-style on-demand services. Consumers now have far more choice in what kind of content they want to pay for and how they want to watch it—for better or worse. A new sports-free bundle adds yet another option to the list.

The allure of the sports-free bundle is that sports tend to be expensive. ESPN alone costs cable TV customers $9 per month whether they watch it or not. Some estimates put the cost of ESPN at $36 per month if only its viewers paid.

The service would reportedly also not include major broadcast channels NBC, ABC, CBS, and FOX.

Rafael Nadal speaks out against Catalan independence

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Spanish tennis world number one Rafael Nadal has criticised plans for an independence referendum called by Catalonia’s pro-separatist government for October 1. The referendum is deemed illegal by the Spanish government and the country’s Constitutional Court.

“I think what is happening on October 1 ought not to take place because, from my point of view, everyone should respect the law,” Nadal told Spanish newspaper El Mundo on Tuesday.

“The laws are what they are and one can’t skip the laws because you want to skip them. I can’t run a red light because that traffic light doesn’t seem right to me.”

Nadal, 31, is a national hero in his homeland having landed a 16th career Grand Slam at the US Open on Sunday.

However, Nadal, who grew up and lives on the Balearic island of Mallorca, is also a Catalan speaker.

This year the centre court at Barcelona’s Royal Tennis Club that hosts the Barcelona Open was renamed the Rafael Nadal Court.

“I feel very close to the Catalans and I feel very Spanish as well,” Nadal added.

“I don’t understand Spain without Catalonia. I don’t want to understand or see it. “I believe that together we ought to be able to understand each other and I think we have to make an effort to reach an understanding because I think we are, without any doubt, stronger together than separated. “Spain is better with Catalonia and Catalonia is better with Spain from my point of view.”

Davis Cup: Canadian team better than Czech Republic, says Mahesh Bhupathi

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Davis Cup captain Mahesh Bhupathi believes the current Canadian team is far superior than the Czech Republic team that beat India 4-1 in New Delhi in play-offs 2015. The Canadians with upcoming star Denis Shapovalov in the squad are strong favourites to win the tie in Edmonton which begins on Friday.

This will be India’s fourth consecutive attempt at climbing into the World Group having lost to Serbia, Czech Republic and Spain in the three years. The Indian side spent a week in New York after the US Open in order to prepare for the tie having dominated the Asia/Oceania Zone.

“Canada is a quality team but of course we are here because we earned the chance to play them. I personally think they are a stronger team than the Czechs when they came to India,” said Bhupathi to PTI.

The Canadian squad will be spearheaded by World number 51 Shapovalov, who reached the US Open fourth round, Vasek Pospisil (82) along with
seasoned Daniel Nestor (43 in doubles) and Brayden Schnur (202) for the play-off tie.

Shapovalov was one of the candidates to lift the trophy at the US Open after an injury plagued tour left the bottom half of the draw without any star names. He reached the fourth round at Flushing Meadows as a qualifier just weeks after beating Rafael Nadal in Montreal.

Bhupathi said the camp at the University of Columbia has helped the team to prepare better for the indoor tie on hard courts.  “The week of practice indoors has helped the team. The boys have hit a lot of balls and are feeling good, so we are looking forward to the weekend,” he said.

Yuki Bhambri and Ramkumar Ramanathan will be India’s singles specialists in the tie with experienced Rohan Bopanna to play the doubles rubber. Bhambri and Ramkumar have had a stellar year with wins over top players. Bhambri beat Gael Monfils at the Citi Open while Ramkumar got the better of Dominic Thiem in Antalya. “Wins give you confidence and big wins give you lots of confidence. I am sure it’s a stepping stone in their process to make the top 100,” Bhupathi said. “Both Yuki and Ram have had very good summers so they have a lot of matches under their belt. Rohan, of course, made the final in Montreal and is a leader in this team. Saketh is getting better every week, it’s always hard to come back from a long injury layoff but he is committed,” he added.

Cristiano Ronaldo ripe for Real Madrid return in Champions League, says Zinedine Zidane

Cristiano Ronaldo is eager to return to action as he prepares for his first start of the season when Real Madrid begin their Champions League defence on Wednesday against APOEL Nicosia, coach Zinedine Zidane said on Tuesday.

Ronaldo, who was the top goalscorer in Europe’s elite competition last season for the fifth consecutive year and scored twice in the 4-1 win over Juventus in the final, has been starved of football so far this season due to a long suspension.

The Portuguese was given a five-game ban for being sent off and pushing a referee in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup against Barcelona in August, leading him to miss Real’s first three Liga games and next week’s trip to Real Sociedad, but is clear to face Cypriot champions APOEL.

“He’s in a very good mood and is very happy to play, because this is what he really loves, playing football, but he’s also right mentally and he’s happy to be on the pitch again,” Zidane told a news conference.

Ronaldo’s return boosts Real’s attack after a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Levante on Saturday, their second successive home draw which left them trailing early Liga leaders Barcelona and Real Sociedad by four points.

“We all know how good Cristiano is and I prefer him to be with us all the time. We can’t talk about Cristiano-dependence, I want everyone to be available all the time,” added the Frenchman.

“Cristiano doesn’t just contribute goals, he’s a leader, he always wants to win and he transmits that to everyone else. We’re all excited to have him back with us.”

As well as Ronaldo, Zidane is set to recall Luka Modric and Keylor Navas after resting them to his side’s cost against Levante, although Karim Benzema is out for at least a month with a hamstring injury.

Zidane was critical of his side after their display at the weekend, but said he and his players were relaxed despite drawing back-to-back league games for the first time in a year.

“The same thing happened last year so we’re not worried at all, the opposite,” said Zidane, who is the first coach to successfully defend the European Cup since 1990 and has won seven trophies since taking charge of Real in January 2016.

“We can’t be happy with the results, especially the last one, but we’re not going to change the way we work, just as we didn’t last year. You’re always going to have a few bad results in a season,” he said.

Ousted FIFA official Miguel Maduro set to testify to British legislators

An ousted FIFA official is due to testify at a British parliamentary hearing on Wednesday about the “pressure and interference” experienced while overseeing governance reforms.

Miguel Maduro was removed from the chairmanship of the governance committee at world soccer’s governing body after less than a year in May.

Maduro, a Portuguese lawyer, was due to appear on Tuesday at the hearing. But travel problems meant Maduro will answer questions from legislators on the culture, media and sport committee on Wednesday morning.

The committee says in a statement that the aim is to “explore the pressure and interference Maduro experienced at FIFA.”

Maduro will be protected by parliamentary privilege, providing legal protections to speak freely. His evidence could throw a fresh spotlight on FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s leadership of soccer.