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It’s a long season. Don’t miss the games that matter most.
The 2017-18 NBA season is already in full swing, and there’s no shortage of compelling storylines to follow: Can Chris Paul lead the Rockets to greatness? Is this the year “trusting the process” finally pays off for the 76ers? Are there enough shots to go around for the Thunder’s Big 3? How will the Knicks fare in the post-Carmelo Anthony era? And perhaps most importantly, do the Cavs have enough left in the tank to challenge the Warriors? If you’re a cord-cutter, however, following along at home won’t be easy. Only 17 games will be broadcast over the air, exclusively via ABC, and those games don’t start airing until Christmas Day. Thankfully, it’s never been easier to watch the NBA online. Here’s everything that you need to know. the blooming streaming TV industry has made it easier for NBA fans to watch their favorite games even after they’ve left the traditional cable world.
How to watch the NBA online
1. DirectTV Now
DirectTV Now is the best option for people who miss their traditional cable package, thanks to its massive channel listings and interface. DirecTV Now’s basic “Live a Little” package starts at $35 and gives you access to ABC, ESPN, ESPN 2, and TNT. If you’re trying to follow the season on a budget, it’s a great deal and comes as part of a 60-plus channel package. If you’re a completist who wants some extra channels in addition to NBA TV, DirectTV Now’s $60 “Go Big” tier, is for you. It comes with over 100 channels for those moments you need to unwind with some Lifetime movies after a big loss.
Be aware: Game console users won’t be able to enjoy DirectTV Now’s app. However, DirecTV still available on Roku, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire Stick and Amazon Fire TV, and iOS and Android devices, as well as with the web browsers Chrome and Safari.
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Streaming TV upstart FuboTV has quickly built a solid reputation among international sports fans for the myriad options it offers for watching soccer. Frustratingly, watching NBA games on FuboTV is a decidedly mixed bag. Its basic $39.99 per-month Premier package comes with NBA TV, which airs multiple games a week, but it lacks ESPN, ESPN 2, TNT, and even ABC. While FuboTV offers add-on channel packages, none of those channels are available at the moment in any format on FuboTV. If you’re a soccer fan who also like watching NBA games, NBA TV alone might be enough to sway you to FuboTV, but you should be aware of its limitations going in.
Like DirectTV Now, FuboTV isn’t supported on game consoles but is available on a wide range of other streaming options. FuboTV can be watched on your computer, iOS or Android devices, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, and Roku devices.
Hulu with Live TV is one of the best deals in streaming TV, especially for NBA fans. Your $39.99 per-month subscription comes with 50-plus channels, including ABC, ESPN, ESPN 2, and TNT. Sadly that doesn’t include NBA TV, but Hulu makes up for the loss with special features. For NBA fans who sometimes miss games because of work, Hulu’s Cloud DVR feature is a lifesaver. Subscribers get 50 hours of Cloud DVR storage with their basic subscription, upgradable to 200 hours for an extra fee. Hulu with Live TV also offers a series page for NBA Basketball that’s designed to make it easy for subscribers to keep track of their favorite teams and record games. The Hulu with Live TV subscription also includes a standard Hulu package as well, so you’ll have lots to watch after the game.
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Hulu with Live TV works with Roku, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, select smart TVs, as well as Apple and Android devices, and the Xbox One and Xbox 360. The service is not available on the PlayStation for reasons that we’ll discuss below.
Is money no object when it comes to your love of basketball? Then NBA’s League Pass is for you. It’s a mammoth $199.99 subscription that gives you access to live games, full game replays, audio broadcasting, and classic games for every team in the NBA. It even offers VR options for subscribers who are on the cutting edge of technology. If paying $199.99 all at once seems like a bit much, the League Pass can also be had for a $28.99 per-month subscription. Subscribers who don’t want to watch commercials can sign up for the $249.99 per year, $39.99 per-month All Teams + In-Arena Stream package, which shows a live in-arena stream during commercial breaks.
It may be expensive, but at least your money comes with lots of viewing options. If you have a computer, iOS, Android, Amazon Fire product, Apple TV, Roku, PlayStation, Xbox, Alexa, Chromecast, or Samsung smart TV, NBA Leauge Pass has you covered.
Sometimes you just care about one team, and the idea of paying out the nose for games you won’t watch is unthinkable. That’s why the NBA offers Team Pass, a $119.99 per year (or $17.99 per month) streaming option that lets you watch live games and replays of one team for the entire season. Your subscription also includes audio broadcasting for all live games. You don’t get classic games or gimmicky VR content, but you’ll never miss your favorite team (unless it’s a blackout date, but you’ll have that problem with every service. We hate it too.).
Like its sister service, NBA League Pass, NBA Team Pass offers a myriad of streaming options for subscribers. You can stream NBA games via a computer, iOS, Android, Amazon Fire product, Apple TV, Roku, PlayStation, Xbox, Alexa, Chromecast, or Samsung smart TV..
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Sony’s PlayStation Vue service is a great option for basketball fans for many of the same reasons Hulu with Live TV is. Both services offer cloud DVR for subscribers and the ability to record games, along with comparable price points. PlayStation Vue’s basic Access package offers 45 channels, including ABC, ESPN, ESPN 2, and TNT, for $39.99 per month. That’s the same as Hulu. However, for an extra $5 per month, PS Vue’s Core package adds NBA TV, along with ESPNews and a host of other sports-related channels. More importantly, each user on the PS Vue account gets their DVR account, so you won’t have to worry about someone accidentally deleting your games.
It might seem like these services discount one another, but if you’re a PlayStation owner, you can’t use Hulu with Live TV anyway. That option isn’t available on Sony’s Hulu app. However, Vue itself supports most major streaming options, with the exception of the Xbox. PlayStation, Roku, Amazon Fire device, iOS, Android, and computer users will have no problem signing up for PS Vue.
7. Sling TV
Need to watch the NBA on a budget? Sling TV is your best bet for live TV streaming. Its basic $20 Orange subscription includes ESPN, ESPN 2, and TNT. You won’t see NBA TV, even if you upgrade to the Orange + Blue package, but Sling TVs easy-to-use mobile interface makes watching games while away from home a breeze. Sling even offers a DVR feature, but it’s of almost no use to NBA fans. ESPN and ESPN 2 are blocked from Sling’s DVR, so you’ll be left recording just the TNT games. For casual fans, Sling TV is probably enough, but given you can get the NBA’s Team Pass for $17.99 a month and catch rebroadcasts of your favorite team’s games, Sling TV seems like a bad option for serious NBA fans.
Sling TV is available on most major streaming devices including Amazon Fire devices, Apple TV, Android TV, Chromecast, Xbox, certain smart TV models, Roku, and computers. Sadly, Sling TV isn’t available on PlayStation.
Editor’s note: This article is updated regularly for relevance.
John-Michael Bond is a tech reporter and culture writer for Daily Dot. A longtime cord-cutter and early adapter, 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.