Like with many sports leagues in the US, it can be hard to see all the live NBA games that you want. The distinctions between and in- and out-of-market games and blackout restrictions can be aggravating. Read on to learn your options.
In a hurry? The easiest way to watch out-of-market games is with NBA League Pass, which you can get through the following services:
- FuboTV: The best streaming service for international sports also provides 130+ well-selected channels. FuboTV allows you to try out its service free for 7 days.
- Sling TV: This low-cost service allows you to select just the channel lineup you want. Save a bundle with Sling TV.
- DIRECTV STREAM: Get a great channel lineup with the best selection of RSNs in the industry. A 5-day free trial is now available for DIRECTV STREAM.
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Unfortunately, we don’t know a streaming service in that covers this sport. But if you’ve already paid for the right service, and just can’t watch because of your location, there is an easy way to get the content you deserve. You need a VPN, like one of the following.
- ExpressVPN: Premium VPN provider that just works, with 3,000+ locations in 94 countries. Supports five simultaneous devices and comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. (ExpressVPN review)
- Surfshark: Connect to over 3,200 servers in 99 countries (+ tonnes of US metro areas). Try it with a 7-day free trial.
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If you’re overwhelmed and not sure where to begin, you’ll find all the answers in our full VPN guide.
Table Of Contents
There is a lot of jargon that has been created to describe the strange way that many sports are broadcast in the United States. Two of the most important are out-of-market and in-market.
In-market games are those that involve your local team. If you live in Portland, Oregon, any matchup that involves the Trail Blazers is in-market. And any matchup that does not involve them is out-of-market.
To watch most in-market games, you need access to the regional sports network (RSN) that covers your local team. In the case of the Trail Blazers, that’s Root Sports Northwest.
NBA League Pass was created to allow basketball fans to watch out-of-market games. It is like the anti-RSN. So to continue our example, those in Portland would be able to watch all games except for those that involve the Trail Blazers.
Out-of-Market NBA Games Options
There are various ways to watch out-of-market NBA games of varying degrees of cost and power.
Most NBA fans don’t need to even think about out-of-market games because the NBA has done a great job of providing nationally broadcast games. This year, 276 NBA regular season games will be broadcast on ABC (18), ESPN (83), NBA TV (107), or TNT (68). All of the playoff games will also appear on those channels.
The following streaming services offer all those channels:
- Sling TV: Although it doesn’t offer ABC, you will still get to watch all those games with ESPN3. With Sling Orange, you can watch 169 games for just $40.00/mo. (Sling TV review)
- DIRECTV STREAM: Get all these national channels along with whatever RSNs are offered in your area. (DIRECTV STREAM review)
- YouTube TV: Get all the national channels to watch the NBA.
NBA League Pass
Most of the major sports leagues provide out-of-market packages. There are NFL Sunday Ticket and MLB.TV, for example. And the NHL and MLS use ESPN+ for this purpose.
Similarly, the standard way to watch out-of-market NBA games is to sign-up for NBA League Pass. You can get it directly from the league and watch either on the NBA app or through NBA.com.
There are three NBA League Pass subscription types. First, is the standard package, which you can get for $99.99/yr or $14.99/mo. This includes out-of-market games with commercials on a single device.
Next, you can get NBA Team Pass for $89.99/yr, if you are really only interested in the games of your favorite team and don’t care about the rest. But it limits you to the games of a single team for not much cost savings.
Finally, you can get League Pass Premium for $129.99/yr or $19.99/mo. This package adds NBA TV, removes commercials, and allows you to stream on up to 2 devices at once.
All of these packages remove blackout restrictions on nationally televised games three hours after the game airs. So you can watch any game on-demand after that time. If you don’t mind delayed telecasts, League Pass is a complete viewing solution. The problem is with locally blacked-out games, which don’t become available for three days.
Given you will also need the other channels, most people get NBA League Pass through a live TV streaming service. All three we discussed above allow you to add it: Sling TV, DIRECTV STREAM, and YouTube TV.
FuboTV also provides NBA League Pass as an add-on for $14.99/mo.
VPNs are powerful tools that are essential for cord-cutters. They won’t allow you to watch games you don’t have the rights to. But under circumstances where geotargeting is blocking you from watching games, they can work miracles.
But again: they don’t provide content. They only allow you to get to content that you have already paid for.
Unblock Your Favorite Events & Teams With a VPN
If you can’t watch your favorite events or teams because of your location, a VPN will allow you to get the access you are entitled to, plus extra security and unequalled privacy. Check out our VPN Guide for everything you need to know, including our top pick ExpressVPN.
Learn how to watch March Madness!
Social Solutions for Watching Out-of-Market NBA Games
We list this one last but it might well be your first option: reach out to friends, family, and co-workers. Most people enjoy watching live sports with a group and are glad to share their services.
A related prospect is the now ubiquitous sports bar. These establishments normally air multiple games at the same time. And more recently, you can even find non-drinking establishments that cater to sports fan, although they are still rare.
NBA League Pass Streaming Devices
There is some variability in terms of device support for the various services. But they all support the most popular devices: Amazon Fire TV/Firestick, Android mobile, Apple TV, Chromecast, iOS (iPhone, iPad), Roku, and Samsung smart TVs.
The NBA makes it relatively easy to be a fan whether your favorite team lives close by or far away. Sling TV provides an inexpensive way to follow the league. But if you want it all, we recommend DIRECTV STREAM.
Can I watch out-of-market NBA Games with Hulu + Live TV?
Hulu + Live TV offers ABC, ESPN, and TNT in its base package for $69.99/mo. It also offers the NBC Sports RSNs to subscribers in the local market of the Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics, Sacramento Kings, Chicago Bulls, Philadelphia 76ers, and Washington Wizards. But it doesn’t offer NBA TV or NBA League Pass. You could, however, get them independently.
How do I watch specific NBA teams?
We’ve created individual viewer’s guides for each NBA team:
Portland Trail Blazers vs Dallas Mavericks by Danny Bollinger under CC BY 2.0.
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