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The NBA season is underway: here are all your streaming options

There's one ideal choice and a few that may cover most of the essentials.
By
November 1, 2022
NBA basketball with the Warriors and Celtics
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While a top-flight cable or satellite package is typically the safest way to keep up with basketball, that can get expensive, and we’re living in the 2020s — people should be able stream whatever sports they want, when they want, if that’s what they’re into. With the regular season in full swing, here’s how to get your NBA streaming fix.

See also: The best media streaming devices

QUICK ANSWER

The most reliable option is YouTube TV, since it includes many channels covering NBA games, and you can optionally add an NBA League Pass. You might try FuboTV if you're willing to spend more, or Sling TV if you're willing to make sacrifices to save money. Otherwise you should be looking at a standalone NBA League Pass, but you won't be able to watch your local team or any games airing on national US or Canadian networks.


JUMP TO KEY SECTIONS

Which streaming services carry NBA games?

An NBA brawl between the Lakers and Rockets
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

There are a variety that do, but the trick is not overpaying. In that regard your best bet is YouTube TV — while it’s US-only and one of the more expensive internet-based TV services at $64.99 per month, that gets you many channels covering NBA games, including ABC, ESPN, TNT, and NBA TV. You can buy an NBA League Pass subscription as an add-on (more on the Pass in a moment). YouTube even sponsored the 2022 NBA Finals.

Short of that you might try FuboTV, which specializes in sports coverage, but that service starts at $69.99 per month and you’ll have to spend an extra $7.99 if you want NBA TV — again, this in the US. Fubo is active in Canada and Spain, but with varying channel lineups.

Another US alternative is Sling TV. The service’s Orange plan includes ESPN and TNT, and there’s a $14.99 NBA League Pass add-on that also wraps in NBA TV. Choose this pairing if you want to save cash, since even after the add-on you’ll pay $49.99 per month. Be aware however that you’ll miss some of the perks of YouTube TV, including unlimited DVR functions, support for multiple screens, and a better overall channel selection. You can solve the screens issue by paying more for an Orange Plus Blue plan.

As a last resort you can buy an NBA League Pass on its own. We say “last resort” because at a minimum of $14.99 per month or $99.99 per season ($19.99/$129.99 for Premium), it’s not as comprehensive as it should be. The NBA blocks (live) streaming for your local team and any games airing on national TV networks — which is why it’s useful to have a full-scale internet TV package. The good news is that the Pass is available globally, excluding a handful of countries such as Cuba, Iran, and Russia. The NBA’s homecourt restrictions don’t apply outside the US and Canada.

Why can’t I watch a game in my area?

The NBA sponsored by YouTube TV
Getty Images

As the NBA explains, there are exclusivity deals with some regional and national broadcasters. That means for instance that League Pass holders in the US or Canada can’t stream games airing on national networks like ABC, ESPN, TNT, TSN, or Sportsnet. For similar reasons, they can’t stream All-Star Weekend or the Playoffs.

Deals can potentially affect other services, and the NBA regularly blacks out your local team, assuming you have one. The reasoning is more directly profit-driven here — the League wants you to buy stadium tickets, which are both priced higher and more likely to get you spending on merchandise too. Getting around this may require streaming through a VPN (virtual private network) to spoof your IP address.

If you want to see which blackouts might affect you, the NBA maintains separate tools for US and Canadian viewers.


Read more: The best basketball apps for Android

FAQs

No it doesn’t. While Hulu advertises NBA coverage through its Hulu Plus Live TV plan, that only includes third-party (meaning non-NBA) networks like ABC, ESPN, and TNT. There isn’t even a League Pass add-on. You can, at least, choose to track teams.

Indeed it does, if mostly through add-on packages for NBA TV and NBA League Pass. If you’re in Brazil, a minimum of 87 live games will be streaming at no extra cost.