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There are a couple of ways to watch the NBA online, but none quite compare to the NBA League Pass. For basketball fans who travel, live far away from their home team, or just want to be able to watch games on-demand, the NBA League Pass is as good as it gets. While it’s not a perfect system, thanks to the inevitable blackout dates, it offers fans the most options for their money each NBA season. Now the NBA is also offering a Team Pass, a cheaper version of the service that lets you follow your favorite squad for the whole season.
Here’s what you need to know about the price of NBA League Pass and Team Pass, how they differ, and other bonus features.
What is the NBA League Pass?
The NBA’s League Pass system works like every other streaming service you’ve ever used. Subscribers pay by the month or for an entire year up front. Depending on which subscription you sign up for, you get streaming access to the entire league or just one team, along with a few extra perks. Subscribers can stream games live or watch full replays after the game airs. Replays are available for streaming three hours after the game is over, so if you’ve got to work during the big game, it’ll be waiting for you after your shift.
One nice aspect of the Pass system is how versatile it is. Whether you want to watch just one game, follow every game, or just want the audio for each live game, NBA Pass has an option for you.
NBA League Pass vs NBA Team Pass
When it comes to watching games, NBA Pass offers two central plans: League Pass and Team Pass. Each program provides streaming access to live games, full game replays, and audio broadcasting for all live games. The difference is that One Team subscribers only get access to those features for one team per season. Sorry bandwagon jumpers: If you’re going to switch teams mid-season you better pony up for the All Teams package.
Of course, there’s more to the All Teams package than the ability to watch every game from every team during the season. All Teams subscribers also get access to NBA Pass’ Classic Games Archive and VR viewing during select games during the season.
Want to watch every game but hate commercials? The All Teams + In-Arena Stream option adds an in-area stream during commercial breaks, sparing you beer ads and giving you a more immersive viewing experience.
Don’t need to watch the big game to enjoy it? Pick up the NBA League Pass Audio, letting you listen to every game from every team live for one flat rate. No matter how you want to watch, NBA Pass has an option for you.
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How much is NBA League Pass?
The NBA League Pass costs $199.99 per year or $28.99 per month. But there are other options that you should be aware of. Upgrading to the All Teams + In-Arena Stream level will set you back $249.99 per year or $39.99 per month.
By contrast, NBA Team Pass costs $119.99 per year or $17.99 per month. Looking to enjoy the NBA for less scratch? Single games can be purchased for $6.99 apiece, while an entire season of the NBA League Pass Audio subscription will set you back just $9.99 for every game from every team.
Starting with the 2018-19 season, you can also purchase just the fourth quarter of NBA games. That’s when the action gets good anyways, right? For just $1.99, you can watch any out-of-market game on NBA League Pass as soon as the third quarter ends. And commissioner Adam Silver hinted in an interview with ESPN that more options may be available as earlier as December. “It’s a big moment, but it’s also a small first step,” Silver said. “There are limitations in the technology right now, but we’re working as quickly as possible so that, at some point in the near future, fans can choose to buy any part of any game.”
NBA League Pass price breakdown
- NBA League Pass (all teams): $199 per year or $28.99 per month
- NBA League Pass Premium (all teams + in-arena stream): $249.99 per year or $39.99 per month
- NBA Team Pass (one team): $119.99 per year or $17.99 per month
- NBA League Pass Audio: $9.99 per year
- NBA League Pass single games: $6.99
- NBA League Pass fourth-quarter action: $1.99 per game
NBA League Pass devices
No matter how you stream media, NBA Pass has a way for you to watch or listen. From game consoles to streaming sticks to computers, there’s an app for you. NBA League Pass supports iOS, Android, Amazon Fire TV and Kindle devices, Roku 3 and 4, Apple TV, Android TV, Samsung smart TVs, Xbox One, PlayStation 3 and 4, Amazon Alexa, and Amazon Echo. You can also just log into your computer the old-fashioned way if you want (and Chromecast to your big screen).
- Sling TV channels
- FuboTV channels
- PlayStation Vue channels
- DirecTV Now channels
- YouTube TV channels
- Hulu Live TV channels
NBA League Pass special features
Subscribing to the NBA League Pass might set you back $200 for the season, but the NBA sweetens the deal with a handful of special features. For NBA lovers who relish the history of the game, the Classic Games archive will be of particular interest.
The archive includes over 60 classic games dating back to 1963, each representing an important moment in basketball history. There’s Bob Cousy’s final game, highlights from the legendary Bird-Magic finals of 1984, Jordan’s first championship with the Bulls in 1991, and dozens more waiting in all their nostalgic glory.
NBA League Pass VR
League Pass subscribers also get access to the NBA’s new VR features for select games during the season. VR view lets you watch the game courtside during the live broadcast, provided you have a headset that can handle the feature. We haven’t been able to test VR view yet, but the league is heavily invested in the service, with multiple games each month supporting the experimental feature. VR games can be viewed using Samsung Gear VR, Google Daydream View, PlayStation VR, and Windows Mixed Reality. The schedule for the 2018-19 season hasn’t been released yet, but if last year is any indication, you can expect more than 25 games to be available in VR.
NBA League Pass and Team blackout dates
All that glitters is not gold, and the NBA Pass system is no exception. Despite paying a hefty fee for your subscription, NBA League Pass and Team Pass holders are both beholden to the same cursed blackout dates as other streaming fans. Blackout dates are games you can’t watch because they’re airing locally in your area. For example, if you live in Los Angeles and have the League Pass, you’ll find yourself unable to watch Lakers or Clippers games at the same time they’re airing in your region, though the games will be available for streaming three hours after they finish airing. The same goes for the NBA Team Pass.
Blackout dates mostly impact fans who live near their favorite teams. If you’re a Bulls fan living in Chicago, you won’t have a problem. If you’re a Lakers fan living in L.A., expect to be annoyed when the game you want to stream is playing locally. There is a potential workaround: If you use a VPN, or virtual private network, you can change your location, which may unlock local games for you.
If the game is being broadcast on network TV, it might be worth investing in an HD antenna.
Is NBA Pass worth it?
The NBA’s Pass system isn’t perfect, but the league has gone to great lengths to ensure it’s offering fans a wide range of price points for access. From monthly payment options to discounted audio streams, the NBA knows not all fans work with the same budget and tries to provide opportunities for everyone to tune in. A season-long subscription is cheaper than tickets and drinks at a live game, especially when broken up into monthly payments.
Ultimately, whether the NBA League Pass or Team Pass is worth will depend on just how much basketball you plan on watching and how much you might be affected by blackout dates, but it’s easy to get your money’s worth.
New to cord-cutting? Here are our picks for the best movie streaming sites of 2018 and free live TV apps and channels. If you’re looking for a specific channel, here’s how to watch HBO, Showtime, Starz, ESPN, AMC, FX, Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, FS1, TBS, TNT, Golf Channel, Cartoon Network/Adult Swim, and NFL RedZone without cable, as well as free movies on YouTube. If you’re on the move, here’s how to watch Fox Sports Go and live stream NBC Sports.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for context.
John-Michael Bond is a tech reporter and culture writer for Daily Dot. A longtime cord-cutter and early adopter, he's an expert on streaming services (Hulu with Live TV), devices (Roku, Amazon Fire), and anime. A former staff writer for TUAW, he's knowledgeable on all things Apple and Android. You can also also find him regularly performing standup comedy in Los Angeles.
Austin Powell is the former managing editor of the Daily Dot. His work focuses on the intersection of entertainment and technology. He previously served as a music columnist for the Austin Chronicle and is the co-author of The Austin Chronicle Music Anthology.