The Los Angeles Lakers won their 17th NBA Championship in October, but the new 2020-21 NBA season has already started. Even if you ditched your cable subscription, you can still watch the stars of the court hoop it up all season long with the right video streaming service. Our guide covers everything you need to know before making a decision.
Watch the NBA on Video Streaming Services
The 2020-21 NBA season began on Dec. 22, 2020 and runs through May 16, 2021. That’s a long time to subscribe to any live TV streaming service, so make sure to choose wisely. The first thing to consider is whether a service has all the channels you need to watch every regular-season NBA game in your area. This season, national-market game will air on ABC, ESPN, NBA TV, and TNT. YouTube TV is currently the only live TV service we’ve reviewed that offers all of these national broadcast channels without any add-ons or workarounds.
Unlike NFL games, however, not all NBA games air on national channels. Some games are broadcast on regional sports networks (RSNs) that are available only in local markets. Most RSNs are owned by Sinclair (FOX Sports, soon to be rebranded as Bally Sports Network channels), Comcast (NBC Sports), or AT&T (SportsNet). Blackout rules still apply for video streaming services, so it’s important to know if one of these RSNs owns broadcast rights for your local team. Don’t confuse RSNs with your local broadcast affiliate; NBC Sports Philadelphia is different than the local NBC station in Philadelphia.
At the time of publishing, FOX Sports RSNs cover 17 NBA teams, NBC Sports RSNs feature nine NBA teams, and AT&T’s SportsNet RSNs handle local broadcasts for two NBA teams. These local channels are available only to subscribers who reside within the local market. Currently, AT&T TV is the only service that includes FOX Sports, NBC Sports (though it is missing a few of these), and SportsNet RSNs after Hulu Live TV, fuboTV, and YouTube TV all dropped FOX Sports RSNs. Again, the RSN you need depends on your location, so don’t immediately discount a service that lacks a particular set of RSNs.
You should compare the technical specifications of these streaming services when choosing between them. For example, if you want to record and re-watch games regularly, check out a service’s DVR storage limits. If there are a lot of people in your home who all want to watch TV at the same time, you need a service that supports a lot of concurrent streams. Verify that whatever service you pick supports all the streaming devices you own, too.
What Is NBA League Pass?
The NBA offers several subscription options, too: Live TV ($6.99 per month), One Team ($119.99), NBA League Pass ($199.99), and NBA League Pass Premium ($249.99). The Live TV option gives you access to NBA coverage and live regular-season games airing on NBA TV. The One Team plan enables you to watch live, out-of-market games for one team. The NBA League Pass plan allows you to watch hundreds of games from around the league, while the NBA League Pass Premium tier gives you the same perks without commercials. The One Team and both League Pass plans support offline downloads, but only the League Pass Premium tier lets you stream on two devices simultaneously.
All NBA League Pass plans are subject to blackout restrictions, so you won’t be able to watch every local or nationally broadcast game live. Still NBA League Pass is one of the few ways to watch out-of-market games live. The NBA League Pass Audio option ($9.99) allows subscribers to listen to every game without blackouts.
Cable and Over-the-Air Options
Another way to ensure that you can watch all of the regular-season NBA games in your area is to sign up for a cable plan with a premium sports package that includes all of the local RSNs. A cable plan is typically more expensive than live streaming alternatives, but it’s great for people who want to get the widest possible variety of cable TV networks for one price.
Because some NBA games will broadcast on ABC, you can pick up those games over an antenna or Locast, an inexpensive streaming option that includes all your local channels.
If you are hoping to watch sports other than the NBA, check out our roundup of the best sports streaming services.
Best NBA Playoffs Streaming Services Featured in This Roundup:
Hulu Live TV
$64.99 per month
Hulu Live TV‘s lineup includes ABC, ESPN, and TNT, so only NBA TV is missing for regular season viewing of national NBA broadcasts. It also has NBC Sports RSNs, but it lacks FOX Sports and SportsNet RSNs. Other sports channels in Hulu’s lineup include BTN, CBS Sports Network, ESPN 2, FS1, Golf Channel, and NBC Sports Network. The optional Español add-on ($4.99 per month) gets you international sports coverage via ESPN Deportes.
media streaming devices (Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, and Roku), smart TVs, and game consoles (PlayStation, Xbox, and the Nintendo Switch).
$64.99 per month
YouTube TV has all the channels an NBA fan needs to keep up with the season including ABC, ESPN, TNT, and NBA TV. The service includes all NBC Sports RSNs, but does not offer FOX Sports RSNs or SportsNet RSNs. Die-hard fans can add on NBA League Pass for $39.99 per month or $249.99 for the entire season.
YouTube TV also includes networks like the Golf Channel, MLB Network, NFL Network, Tennis Channel, and Olympic Channel. FOX Soccer Plus and NFL RedZone are available in the $15-per-month Sports Plus Add-On.
With your subscription, you get unlimited cloud DVR storage (with recordings available for up to nine months), up to three simultaneous device streams, 1080p live streams on select platforms, and support for six user accounts with your YouTube TV subscription.
The service is available on the web, mobile platforms (Android and iOS), media streaming devices (Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, and Roku), smart TVs, and game consoles (PlayStation and Xbox).
$59.99 per month
FuboTV offers ABC, ESPN, and NBC Sports RSNs, but it is missing FOX Sports RSNs, NBA TV, SportsNet RSNs, and TNT. Still, the service offers one of the broadest sports lineups, with channels such as CBS Sports Network, FS1, Golf Channel, and NFL Network. fuboTV also has an impressive international sports lineup; beIN Sports, GOL TV, and TUDN are just a few of those available.
A fuboTV subscription includes up to 30 hours of DVR content, which you can keep forever. It offers two Cloud DVR add-ons that increase the limit to 250 ($9.99 per month) or 1,000 hours ($16.99 per month). FuboTV offers add-ons to expand simultaneous stream limits from two devices (the default) up to five devices on your home network. The service includes two excellent playback features: Lookback, which allows you to watch some sports events up to 72 hours after they aired, and Startover, which lets you start some live programs over from the beginning.
Sling TV. The Orange & Blue plan includes TNT and ESPN. If you add on the Sports Extras package ($15 per month), you get NBA TV along with 20 other sports channels like FS2, the MLB Network, and the Golf Channel. Sling TV enables you to subscribe to NBA League Pass directly, too.
To watch your local ABC channel, you need to install an HD antenna and hook it up with Sling. It’s cumbersome, but it’s an option for existing Sling TV subscribers who don’t want to miss NBA games this season.
Regional sports networks are mostly a miss. You can get some NBC Sports RSNs with Sling TV depending on your location, but FOX Sports and SportsNet RSNs are not available. Although it does not affect your ability to watch NBA games, there’s no way to get CBS on Sling TV.
AT&T TV’s entry-level Entertainment tier includes ABC, ESPN, and TNT, which makes it a good option for casual NBA Fans. The $84.99-per-month Choice plan adds sports channels such as ACC, Big 10 Network, ESPNews, ESPNU, MLB Network, NBA TV, and Tennis Channel. This tier also includes RSNs from AT&T, Comcast, and Sinclair, even it is missing a few of the NBC Sports RSNs. AT&T TV is the only service we reviewed that offers RSNs from all three media networks, so this may be the best option for you if your local team’s games are broadcast on one of these channels.
January 25, 2021