Basketball fans who have cut the cord on cable aren’t left out in the cold when it comes to catching all the NBA action. The digital era has ushered in a plethora of options to stream NBA games. This comprehensive guide will help you navigate the ins and outs of how to watch NBA games without cable
Understanding the NBA Broadcasting Landscape
The NBA broadcasting landscape can be a bit of a labyrinth to navigate for the unacquainted. National games are broadcast across four major networks: ABC, ESPN (and its secondary station ESPN2), TNT (with TBS as a secondary station), and NBA TV.
However, not all NBA games are nationally televised. Many matches are aired exclusively on regional sports networks like Bally Sports and AT&T’s SportsNet. The coverage agreements for these games can vary significantly between teams and regions, adding another layer of complexity.
To find out where a specific game is being broadcast, you can check the NBA schedule. Be aware that games shown live on national networks are often blacked out for local viewers.
Online Platforms for Out-of-Market Fans
If you’re a fan of a team that’s outside your local TV market, NBA League Pass is a top choice. Priced at $100 per season, the basic League Pass package lets you watch any out-of-market games. However, games in your local market and nationally televised games will be blacked out.
Fans who are only interested in watching one team’s games can opt for NBA Team Pass and save $10 per season. The premium version of League Pass, priced at $150 per season, lets you watch ad-free and stream on two devices simultaneously.
Live TV Streaming Packages
Sling TV offers two packages, Blue and Orange, both priced at $40 per month. The Orange package is recommended for NBA fans as it includes ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN3. However, it does not include ABC. National ABC NBA games can still be watched on ESPN3 or via an antenna.
For access to NBA League Pass and NBA TV games, you’ll need to add the $15-per-month NBA League Pass add-on. If you don’t need League Pass for out-of-market games, you can opt for just NBA TV as part of the $11-per-month Sports Extra add-on.
The downside is that regional networks like Bally Sports and SportsNet are not included in the channel lineup. This means you may not be able to watch some games live, depending on your location and the teams playing.
At $73 per month, YouTube TV is slightly more affordable than its competitors, FuboTV and Hulu + Live TV. It includes ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, and NBA TV. However, it does cost extra for the 4K Add-On.
While Sling TV can get you all the NBA action cheaper, YouTube TV is a good choice if you’re interested in its other non-basketball channels. Just like Sling TV, YouTube TV does not carry Bally Sports and SportsNet, so in-market games are off-limits to subscribers.
DirecTV Stream, priced at $65 per month, doesn’t require a traditional DirecTV subscription or a contract. The entry tier, called Entertainment, gives you ESPN, ESPN2, ABC, TNT, and TBS. The $90-per-month Choice tier adds NBA TV. NBA League Pass can be added to any package for an additional fee.
DirecTV Stream’s advantage over other streaming services is that its top tiers include regional sports networks like Bally Sports and SportsNet, which will let you watch live in-market games otherwise unavailable via streaming. However, this varies by market, so you’ll need to check the specifics for your team and location.
Other Ways to Catch Up on NBA
While the above options are likely the best fits for most fans, there are other ways to keep up with NBA action.
FuboTV, the most sports-focused of the live television streaming networks, offers ESPN, ESPN2, NBA TV, and ABC in its basic tier, but lost access to TNT and TBS in 2020. For games on those networks, you can add the Bleacher Report Sports Add-On to your HBO Max (formerly known as Max) subscription.
The ESPN App and ESPN.com, as well as the ABC Streaming App, require a cable or satellite television subscription. The NBA App lets you watch NBA TV and NBA League Pass games live, but you’ll need some way to watch nationally televised ABC, ESPN, and TNT/TBS games, as well as the regionally televised games.
VPNs for NBA Streaming
Virtual private networks (VPNs) can be used to route your device’s connection through a server in a different location. This can make it appear to websites that your device is connecting from a different location. Streaming services have rules against using VPNs, and some attempt to block VPN users. Configuring a VPN to run through your internet router can be complicated but is necessary to run your smart TV or streaming box through the VPN.
Use this guide to figure out how to watch every NBA game without cable and never miss out on the action again. Whether you’re a fan of the local team or an out-of-market team, there’s a solution to keep you in the loop. Remember, the game waits for no one!
“Once you are in the game, you are in the game. The passion to master it makes you disregard the fact you are in the game.”Michael Jordan
Remember to check out our other guides on where to stream NBA games, how to watch all NBA games, and where to watch all NBA games. Happy viewing!