We’re big fans of the NBA at CTC. Even though our team didn’t make it past the first round of this years playoffs, we still love it. In fact, we’re pretty sure just about everybody loves it… I don’t have to tell you that basketball is one of the most popular sports in the United States. You already know.
With the “love-fest” out of the way, it’s time to take a look at the legal options for streaming NBA games without a cable subscription.
Solving the “Cable Problem”
The obvious downside to watching any competitive sport on TV is being anchored to the cable-connection in your home. There are far too many “can’t-miss” games to manage without some mobile options. Not only that, the expensive cable contract that includes a bunch of channels you couldn’t care less about, can’t possibly help.
Cable continues to get more expensive, and more people like us are looking to avoid these expenses entirely. Fortunately, NBA fans have some great cord-cutting options for that don’t involve paying for a traditional cable package.
So, which service should you go with? Sling TV? fuboTV? Something else entirely? How can you tell which ones are worth checking out?
We’ve got the answers right here in our buzzer-beating, ultimate guide to watching NBA games online cheaply, conveniently, and 100% legally!
Which Streaming Services are Best for Watching the NBA?
We’ll be covering a number of cord cutting TV streaming services, and what each of them can offer you in terms of NBA coverage (And a little bit of extras, depending on the package and service you pick). Let’s get started.
Sling TV is one of the best options out there for those who want to stream NBA live. It’s one of the most convenient, well-known services to boot.
Starting at just $20 a month and including a wide variety of channels, Sling is one of the best cable alternatives in the United States. Most importantly, you’ll have access to popular sports channels, including ABC, NBA TV, FOX Sports (Including regional networks), TNT and much more.
A monthly Sling TV subscription gives you the ability to cancel at any time. No cable guy needs to come to your house to set up any boxes, nor do you need to lock yourself into any long term contracts.
Ways to Watch Sling TV
You can stream Sling on many different devices, such as the Xbox One, most TV streaming devices (Such as Roku TV or Apple TV), and any Android/iOS tablet or phone. Additionally, you can access it from your computer, if you so desire, provided your browser supports it (most browsers do).
Live Game Coverage on Sling TV
- All Games aired on ESPN
- Every Game aired on NBA TV (With a Sports Extra package)
- Games aired on ABC (via ESPN3)
- Local games aired on FOX Sports Regional Network (Location dependent)
- Post-game coverage on TNT
- Over 20 additional channels of general entertainment, lifestyle, news & more
Sling TV is our top pick for sports fans of all kinds because of the cost, flexibility, and channel options. Considering how much cheaper their service is compared to a regular cable contract, this is an insane value.
Sling Blue Package Plus FOX Regional Sports ($25 Per Month)
The basic Sling TV package ($20/month) will give you access to the channels listed above. However, there are two noteworthy exceptions: NBA TV and FOX regional sports.
Fortunately, you can add access to FOX regional sports and specifically, basketball team coverage, but you’ll need to shell out an extra $5 a month ($25 total) for the Sling Blue package.
Here’s the breakdown of local teams you can catch via FOX Sports, depending on your location.
|NBA Team||Regional Availability|
|Los Angeles Clippers||FOX Sports West & FOX Sports San Diego|
|Orlando Magic||FOX Sports Florida|
|Phoenix Suns||FOX Sports Arizona|
|Cleveland Cavaliers||FOX Sports Ohio|
|Atlanta Hawks||FOX Sports South & Southeast|
|Minnesota Timberwolves||FOX Sports Detroit|
|Charlotte Hornets||FOX Sports Southeast & FOX Sports Carolinas|
|Memphis Grizzlies||FOX Sports Southeast & FOX Sports Carolinas|
|Dallas Mavericks||FOX Sports Southwest|
|San Antonio Spurs||FOX Sports Southwest|
|Brooklyn Nets||YES Network|
|Miami Heat||FOX Sports Sunday|
|Milwaukee Bucks||FOX Sports Wisconsin|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||FOX Sports KC & FOX Sports Oklahoma|
|New Orleans Pelicans||FOX Sports New Orleans|
|Indiana Pacers||FOX Sports Indiana|
With the exception of blackouts (Which are beyond the control of Sling TV), you will be able to access any FOX Sports networks that are in your area – not a bad deal.
Add-on’s and Upgrades
Depending on the package you choose when signing up for Sling TV, you may also obtain access to ESPN2, TNT (streaming), Adult Swim, TBS and even ESPN live streams. These are not local-only channels, they are available to all Sling TV subscribers.
Sling TV will allow you to access ESPN’s hundreds of NBA games every season, as well as the NBA Draft live stream during off seasons. Every Wednesday and Friday you’ll be able to view regular games during the regular playing season, as well as playoffs coverage. All of this can be watched weekly, live.
The Sports Extra obviously gives you access to – well, extra sports. In the case of basketball, that means NBA TV access.
TNT’s NBA coverage extends to streaming on Tuesdays & Thursdays, as well as Opening Night games live coverage. NBA All-Star game streams are also available.
Professional Basketball on DirectTV Now
DirecTV Now is DirecTV’s attempt to break into the subscription-based, contract-free online TV streaming service market. While it’s been met with mixed receptions so far (Mostly due to buffering issues and buggy interfaces), it’s still a very solid way to watch live pro basketball. Their plans begin at $35/month, and the channels you get access to vary based on which plan you get. However, the basic plan is enough to watch the vast majority of NBA games live, without a cable subscription.
Unfortunately, DirecTV Now isn’t quite as customizable as Sling TV’s “A La Carte” TV service, and it’s also a bit more expensive. However, if your primary interest is sports, you could do worse in terms of pricing.
Still, here’s the full list of DirecTV Now’s NBA live coverage currently.
- Every Tuesday & Thursday games aired on TNT
- All Wednesday and Friday games aired on ESPN
- TNT’s post game coverage, such as Inside the NBA
- All games aired on NBA TV
- Live FOX Sports Regional Network local games
- Live Comcast Sportsnet Regional Network local games
- All games aired on ABC (through ESPN3/WatchESPN app)
- NBA Playoffs
Regional NBA Coverage
DirecTV Now also offers quite a few regional sports networks for your viewing pleasure, though these will obviously vary depending on where you live.
Here’s the full list:
- Atlanta Hawks – FOX Sports South
- Boston Celtics – CSN New England
- Charlotte Hornets – FOX Sports Carolinas
- Brooklyn Nets – YES Network
- Chicago Bulls – CSN Chicago
- Cleveland Cavaliers – FOX Sports Ohio
- Dallas Mavericks – FOX Sports Southwest
- Detroit Pistons – FOX Sports Detroit
- GSW (Golden State Warriors) – CSN Bay Area
- Indiana Pacers – FOX Sports Indiana
- Los Angeles Clippers – FOX Sports West & FOX Sports San Diego
- Memphis Grizzlies – FOX Sports Southeast & FOX Sports South
- Miami Heat – FOX Sports Sunday
- Milwaukee Bucks – FOX Sports Wisconsin
- Minnesota Timberwolves – FOX Sports North
- New Orleans Pelicans – FOX Sports New Orleans
- Oklahoma City Thunder – FOX Sports KC & FOX Sports Oklahoma
- Orlando Magic – FOX Sports Florida
- Phoenix Suns – FOX Sports Arizona
- Sacramento Kings – CSN California
- San Antonio Spurs – FOX Sports Southwest
- Washington Wizards – CSN Mid-Atlantic
The regional coverage is pretty expansive, but this is in addition to national NBA live coverage. DirecTV Now offers a pretty complete NBA streaming service, all things considered. While it’s just a bit more expensive than Sling TV’s basic plan, the value is still pretty great.
Ways to Watch the NBA on DirecTV Now
If you’re wondering what devices DirecTV NOW supports, we’ve got you covered – here’s the full list:
TV Streaming Devices
- Amazon Fire TV
- Amazon Fire TV Stick
- Apple TV (4th gen+)
- Chromecast (Android only)
- Chromecast Built-in TV
- NO Roku TV Support
- Android phones (4.4+)
- Android tablets (4.4+)
- iPad (iOS 9+)
- iPhone (iOS 9+)
- iPod Touch (vers. 9+)
- Internet Explorer 11+, Windows 8+
- Chrome 50+
- Safari 8+
- NO Firefox Support
Unfortunately, DirecTV Now’s supported devices do fall a little short compared to other major online streaming services, as they are lacking both Firefox and Roku TV device support. However, these are the things that the (relatively new) service seeks to implement support for in the future – likely later on in 2017.
Watch the NBA on PlayStation Vue
PlayStation Vue is definitely one of the most user-friendly, live TV streaming services out there. Coming from Sony, this should come as no surprise – the PlayStation 4 (And their other devices) have already demonstrated that the company knows how to make simple, workable user interfaces.
Most of all, the PS Vue also has a leg up on its competitors by offering cloud DVR functionality, something services like Sling TV(Sling’s Cloud DVR service is still in beta, but the availability continues to grow) and DirecTV Now both lack.
Live NBA Games on Vue for $30/month
PlayStation Vue’s basic “Access Slim” package begins at $30/month, which is a pretty solid deal for what it offers. You’ll get access to over 45 “popular live TV” channels, including offerings like AMC, ESPN, Bravo, CNN, Fox Sports 1 & 2, and more. While this might be adequate for many people to watch their favorite NBA coverage, it doesn’t stop there.
If you feel like kicking things up a notch, it may be worth paying an extra $5/month for their “Core Slim” package, which offers over 15 additional regional and national sports networks.
For your convenience, here’s a list of all the channel options for PlayStation Vue’s. The first two packages (Access Slim and Core Slim) are our recommendations for anyone looking for NBA programming through PS Vue.
|Channel||Access Slim ($30/mo.)||Core Slim ($35/mo.)||Elite Slim ($45/mo.)||Ultra Slim ($65/mo.)|
|ABC On Demand||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|FOX On Demand||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|NBC On Demand||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|Cartoon Network + Adult Swim||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|Fox Sports 1||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|Fox Sports 2||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|National Geographic Channel||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|Big Ten Network||no||yes||yes||yes|
|FOX Sports (Regional Networks, will show local FOX Sports programming)||no||yes||yes||yes|
|BBC World News||no||no||yes||yes|
|Discovery Life Channel||no||no||yes||yes|
|FOX College Sports (Atlantic, Central, & Pacific)||no||no||yes||yes|
|FOX Deportes (Spanish-language sports)||no||no||yes||yes|
|Nat Geo Wild||no||no||yes||yes|
|One World Sports||no||no||yes||yes|
|Sony Movie Channel||no||no||yes||yes|
As you can see, PlayStation Vue offers a very nice line-up of regular NBA & sports-centric streaming. In addition, you’ll also have access to a whole host of other high-quality general entertainment channels. Also, at only $30-$35/month, it’s an excellent value compared to other streaming services out there. They also offer a number of add-ons for varying monthly costs.
Watching the NBA on fuboTV
The great thing about fuboTV is that it is a sports-centric cord-cutting option. The service was originally just $8/month, however, they’ve recently expanded service to include general entertainment options as well. Consequently, this has raised the basic package’s price to $35/month for around 40 channels.
While it’s highly compatible with the vast majority of streaming devices (Mobile, TV-based, and desktop), this is a pretty limited package, all things considered – especially in regards to NBA live streaming. However, it is still a solid option.
For NBA-focused streaming, you’ll get access to NBA TV & Comcast SportsNet regional networks. If you’re just an all-around sports fan, you might appreciate offerings like NBCSN, the Golf Channel, and FOX Sports 1 & 2.
NBA League Pass
One of the primary ways of watching NBA coverage online is the NBA League Pass. The NBA League Pass is the NBA’s official basketball streaming service – throughout the entire NBA season, subscribers will gain full access to both National Basketball Association live streams and on-demand replays, making the League Pass one of the best NBA streaming options out there. Why not go directly to the source?
Wait, No Local Games?
The major drawback (and it’s a big one) of the NBA League Pass is that you cannot watch local teams. The service has entirely blocked them out. This is due to legal concerns with licensing. Naturally, this makes the NBA League Pass an attractive option only if you don’t have any favorite local teams – if you do, you’d likely be better off with one of the other streaming services on this list.
The NBA League Pass is still a very convenient way to watch NBA live coverage, though – here’s everything you can watch with access to this service.
- Up to 40 NBA games – streamed live – per week
- VODs of every regular season NBA game
- VODs of classic NBA games
You’ll also be able to stream up to 4 games at once to a pretty wide variety of devices – just about all the major streaming platforms (Including game consoles, mobile devices and TV streaming devices) are supported here.
Is There Any Way Around the Local Game Blackout?
Possibly… The NBA League Pass International is one way around the blackouts of the regular League Pass, but they are exclusive to other countries (Such as Ireland, the UK, Italy, or Australia).
Alternatively, if you only want to watch a specific NBA game – is the NBA Single Game pass, which costs $7 for every game you wish to watch. This may be perfect for you if you’re only interested in major games between your two favorite teams. However, the cost will add up over time, potentially making this an expensive option to use with any regularity. For standard game coverage, you’ll find the other options on this list to be a better fit.
The Final option from the NBA is the League Pass, which can be purchased for $199 per season. Due to the higher price, the league offers an installment plan, which allows subscribers to cover the cost in 5 installments of $44.99.
If you’re only interested in following a single team, you should skip the League Pass and grab the Team Pass, which costs only $120/season. Once again, you can alternatively pay in 5 installments of $27.
Apart from the local-team restrictions and blackouts (an unfortunate reoccurring theme), NBA’s official streaming service is a perfectly reasonable solution for NBA coverage.
OTA Antenna NBA Streaming
If you don’t find any of the options listed thus far to be ideal for you and your TV streaming needs, you can always go the route of an antenna. All you need is a simple OTA antenna, and during the regular NBA season, you can often catch many live games without any additional costs.
ABC’s typical streaming schedule includes one or two games per weekend, and as long as you have a good-quality HD OTA antenna, you’re all set to watch them for free. The AirTV Player is one option, but there are plenty of ways to get your hands on an OTA antenna. Most major electronics/technology stores (such as Best Buy) sell these for around $20-$35 each. Truthfully, we love the AirTV’s simple and elegant solution to the local channel dilemma facing cord-cutters.
The methods listed in this article are truly the very best ways to watch NBA live TV cheaply and legally – from the comfort of your own home, and without irritating cable contracts, boxes, or more channels than you’ll ever need or want.
Although there are other ways to catch NBA games online, many are pretty dubious from a legal standpoint, while others simply don’t offer the level of convenience, quality, and versatility the services above do. Finally, many of these services offer 7+-day free trials and other promotional offers, so there’s really nothing to lose if you want to give them a shot.