Thanks to the COVID-19 vaccine, fans were able to return to NBA stadiums at the end of last year’s delayed and truncated season. That will continue in 2021-22 as teams return to a full 82-game schedule in front of crowds at full capacity. If you can’t make it to the live games or just aren’t comfortable heading back to the stands yet, you can still watch all the hardwood action even if you don’t have a cable subscription. As in the past, the big matches will air nationally on ABC, ESPN / ESPN2, TNT, and NBA TV; You can get most, if not all, of these covered with a single streaming package.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the regional sports networks (RSNs) that broadcast most of the teams’ games. Fox Sports, NBC Sports, YES Network, Marquee Sports Network, and other RSNs have been removed from YouTube TV, Hulu With Live TV, Sling TV, and fuboTV for the past year due to shipping rate disputes. If you’re primarily interested in following your home team throughout the season, your best bet is to determine which streaming service has an agreement with your team’s regional network and go with that one. It will likely also broadcast some or all of the cable networks mentioned above. You can still find a few teams on the air channels, the Chicago Bulls in the windy city WGN, for example, but that arrangement is moving rapidly down the road of the two-handed fixed shot.
Updated Oct 19, 2021 to inform all of your broadcast options for the 2021-22 NBA season.
The good news is that you can access ABC for free if you have an over-the-air TV antenna (you’ll find our best antenna picks here) and you’re within radius of your local ABC affiliate’s broadcast tower. The bad news is that the network is scheduled to air only 19 of this year’s nationally televised games. However, these include some of the league’s biggest matchups, including three Christmas Day games: Celtics vs. Bucks, Warriors vs. Suns, and Nets vs. Lakers.
You can view the remaining games with some combination of the following services.
The easiest way to catch many of the cable broadcasts is with the Sling TV streaming service, but you will need to purchase a monthly subscription. For $ 35 per month (currently $ 10 for the first month), Sling’s Orange package will get you ESPN / ESPN 2 and TNT. You can also get NBA TV with the Sports Extra add-on for an additional $ 11. With a TV antenna to catch ABC broadcasts, you’ve got it covered.
You can also get ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, and NBA TV with DirectTV Stream, formerly AT&T TV Now. All you need is the basic entertainment package for $ 70 a month. You may also be able to get your local team’s games as DirectTV Stream is the only service that offers a full complement of regional sports networks, including regional networks NBC Sports, Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, New England Sports Network, YES Network, and Spectrum SportsNet LA. To find out what’s available in your area, enter your zip code in the DirectTV Stream channel search. Note that you will still need an antenna to watch games on ABC.
Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV
Both Hulu with live TV and YouTube TV It gives you access to ABC, ESPN / ESPN2, and TNT, for a flat rate of $ 55 a month for the first three months and $ 65 a month thereafter. But only YouTube TV offers NBA TV, giving it the edge for rim fans. However, with just the one-channel package, you don’t get the customization ability of Sling TV or AT&T TV Now, so keep that in mind if you plan to use your subscription beyond the basketball season.
FuboTV offers ABC and ESPN in their starter package of $ 65 per month, but neither of their packages include TNT. This package also includes the regional networks NBC Sports Bay Area and NBC Sports California, which is great news if you are a fan of the Kings, Warriors, Lakers or Clippers. You can add NBA TV by purchasing the Sports Lite add-on for $ 10 a month.
NBA league pass
If you’re really into hardwoods, you should consider subscribing to NBA League Pass, the league’s official streaming service. For $ 200 a year or $ 29 a month, you can watch all the live off-market games that are not broadcast nationally on one of the four networks we’ve mentioned.
A League Pass subscription allows you to view all broadcasts (home, away, mobile view, more languages and additional camera angles) of a game on your TV, computer, tablets, and smartphones. Games originally broadcast on ESPN, TNT and ABC are available three hours after completion in video archives. You also get anytime access to a selected selection of “classic” games.
For $ 250 a year or $ 40 a month, you can upgrade to NBA League Pass Premium, which allows you to stream a game on two devices at once and watch all the games commercial-free.
NBA team pass
Two tickets is a great investment if you just want to follow your favorite team. NBA Team Pass is a less expensive alternative. For $ 120 a year or $ 18 a month, you get access to all of your squad’s local broadcasts for both home and away games.
The problem is, NBA lockout rules still apply. If you live in your team’s “local” market (for example, a Warriors fan who resides in the San Francisco Bay Area), you won’t be able to watch their games even with a Team Pass subscription (this is also applies to League Pass). However, the local market for your equipment is not necessarily defined by the city limits of your city.
In the NBA’s own words, the league determines blackout zones “by zip code (if viewed through a satellite television provider), a combination of zip code, and cable system distribution territory ( if viewed through a cable television provider) or by the IP address associated with your Internet connection or the GPS coordinates of your mobile device. “
That means this is not a cut-the-wire option for everyone. The only way to be sure of your situation is to enter your zip code in the Blackout notice in the middle of this page before you sign up for one of the NBA subscriptions.
NBA broadcast is still 50-50 ball
Live streaming NBA games is still a mixed bag for cable cutters. The availability of national broadcasts through streaming services gives you a seat on the court for some of the biggest matchups of the season. But local fans who want to follow their team remain on the bench, for the most part. Until streaming options for regional sports networks become more widely available, you may want to dust off your radio.