- NBA League Pass is essential for basketball fans, providing access to out-of-market games not on national TV.
- For the Return to Play portion of the season, the service costs $28.99, with a no commercials option for $39.99 a month.
- The service will allow fans to follow the playoffs as well as the completion of the regular season under the new 22-team, 88-game format.
* pricing for remainder of 2019-20 season (Return to Play)
NBA League Pass: How to watch the NBA online
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.
What is the NBA League Pass?
The NBA’s League Pass system works like other streaming services you’re accustomed to using. In a typical season, subscribers pay by the month or for an entire year up front. 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.
NBA League Pass vs. NBA Team Pass
In a typical season, 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.
So, if you’re going Team Pass, you want to make sure you have a team to follow—and if you’re within the TV market for a team, you might consider whether it’s worth it. For example, Austin-based fans of the San Antonio Spurs are going to get their fill of Spurs between local broadcasts and national TV games, but Austin-based fans of the Dallas Mavericks or Houston Rockets might find Team Pass to be just the ticket.
Of course, there’s more to the League Pass package than just games 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.
What does NBA League Pass cost?
Remainder of 2019-20 season plus playoffs
For the NBA’s Return to Play portion of the 2019-20 season, NBA League Pass will be $28.99. There’s also an All Teams, No Commercials premium package that will cost $39.99. Just NBA TV will cost $19.99; if you don’t have it as a channel on your streaming service, and only NBA TV games to cover you, you have an option for less than $20.
Full season pricing
The NBA League Pass typically 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, No Commercials level will set you back $249.99 per year or $39.99 per month.
By contrast, NBA Team Pass typically costs $119.99 per year or $17.99 per month.
There’s also a Virtual Reality option. For a one-time purchase of $49.99, you can see an NBA game like you’re really there using your VR headset.
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).
NBA League Pass special features
The NBA sweetens the deal of a League Pass commitment 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.
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., you’ll need to make sure you’re set up with a streaming service covering your local channels plus ESPN and TNT.
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.
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Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for context.