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The NBA’s online offerings blow other professional sports leagues out of the water. Continue on to find out what’s so great about the NBA’s official internet streaming platform and learn:
Which cable replacement service lets you watch every NBA game without cable
How to set up an NBA DVR (Digital Video Recorder) on your computer
Why YouTube’s free NBA highlight reels are so awesome
The Best Streaming Service for NBA Fans (By Far)
NBA League Pass is not only the very best option for following the NBA online – it’s also arguably the best streaming platform in all of professional sports.
NBA League Pass
With NBA League Pass, you can choose from 3 excellent subscription plans and access as many live feeds as you’re willing to pay for. Additionally, NBA League Pass is the only streaming sports system we know of that’s Virtual Reality compatible.
One caveat: standard blackout rules still apply. If traditional TV outlets aren’t broadcasting an NBA game, don’t expect to be able to watch it via NBA League Pass.
Can’t afford to drop $4000 on a courtside Lakers ticket? No problem! For the low, low price of $799 you can buy yourself an HTC Vive and grab a virtual seat next to Jack Nicholson instead via NBA League Pass.
An “All Teams” or “All Teams + More” subscription lets you view NBA games through your VR goggles.
Here’s what it looks like:
If you only care about one NBA team, the $17.99-per-month One Team Pass is the way to go. With One Team, you can watch live streams and on-demand recordings of all your favorite team’s regular season and playoff games. VR is not included in the deal.
If you own Virtual Reality gear or if you’re a hardcore fantasy basketball geek, you may want to upgrade to either the $28.99-per-month All Teams pass or the $39.99 All Teams + More pass.
The regular All Teams pass and the All Teams + More pass are identical, only All Teams + More removes all commercials. Instead of ads, All Teams + More lets you observe what goes on in the arena during breaks and halftime.
A Cheap Way to Enhance Your Broadcast TV Experience
With an ordinary TV and an antenna, you can watch NBA games on ABC for free – but you also have to sit through lots of commercial breaks and mandatory “TV timeouts.”
However, if you arm your computer with a TV tuner and a TV antenna, you’ll have everything you need to create a lightweight “roll your own” DVR solution. Once you’re up and running, you can skip right past the boring moments and schedule recordings of locally broadcast NBA games with ease.
Here’s a basic overview of everything you need to do to capture and record OTA (over-the-air) broadcasts of NBA games with your computer.
NBA matches look great if you tune in with a TV antenna. In fact, the 1080p picture quality that you get via the airwaves looks better compared to laggy 720p cable channel feeds.
The two best digital TV antenna brands right now are Amazon and Mohu. Both brands offer cheap yet high-powered antennas with lots of features. Typical TV antenna prices range from $15 to $20.
Note: You may only need a low-powered antenna if you live close to your local TV stations, so check AntennaWeb.org to find out how far away you are from your local TV stations before you buy.
In the past, you had to directly plug your TV tuner into your computer to get it to work. SiliconDust’s HDHomeRun TV tuner, however, is much more flexible because you can set it up anywhere in your home.
Additionally, HDHomeRun TV tuners are very affordable. SiliconDust’s cheapest HDHomeRun tuner costs just $79.99.
Another nice thing about HDHomeRun tuners is that they are easy to use. All you have to do is plug your antenna into your HDHomeRun and connect it to your local network to get started.
Once you’re up and running, you can access OTA TV channels from any HDHomeRun app. HDHomeRun makes apps for pretty much every platform, including Mac, PC, Xbox One, PS3 and PS4, Android, Kodi, Plex andmore.
You can access live TV feeds and use HDHomeRun’s EPG (Electronic Program Guide) for free, but you have to upgrade to a paid subscription to unlock its DVR features. A yearly DVR subscription costs just $35, which is not a bad deal at all.
Once you get HDHomeRun’s DVR service, you can just use your computer’s hard drive to save recorded TV shows. Alternatively, you can buy a NAS (Network Attached Storage) device if you’re running low on hard drive space.
Streaming TV Stick
If you have an older TV that lacks “smart” features, you’ll need to get some type of streaming stick to watch your DVR’d NBA games.
One of the most popular streaming sticks out right now is Amazon’s Fire TV Stick. An Amazon Fire TV Stick costs $39.99 on Amazon and is super easy to use.
Once you connect your Amazon Fire TV Stick to your TV and enter your WiFi password, all you have to do is download the free HDHomeRun app from the Amazon App Store and sign up for HDHomeRun’s DVR service ($35/year). Then, just pull up the match, pause it and take a break. After 30 or so minutes, you’ll be able to skip past all the commercials and free throws.
The bad thing about Amazon Fire TV Stick is that it’s locked down and limited by Amazon’s software. There are plenty of inexpensive Android boxes and sticks floating around that offer more app flexibility and better performance.
Total DVR setup cost: between $135 and $175
To set up a DVR for NBA games using the simple setup described above, you’ll need to spend about $20 for a TV antenna, $80 for an HDHomeRun and $35 to upgrade to HDHomeRun’s DVR plan. That brings the total cost of turning your computer into a DVR to around $135. (To watch DVR’d feeds on a non-smart TV, you’ll need to pay about $40 more for an Amazon Fire TV Stick.)
Tablo and TiVo are two popular manufacturers of old school DVR systems. The advantage of Tablo and TiVo is that you can opt to get one of their models that has built-in storage functionality. However, in my opinion the extra storage you get isn’t worth the extra cost because you can easily use your computer for storage with HDHomeRun and save lots of money in the process.
Old school DVRs are normally about twice as expensive ($200+) compared to HDHomeRun. Plus, once you pay for a Tablo or TiVo, you also have to pay a monthly fee (about $5 – $10) to unlock the Electronic Program Guide, apps and other key features. You still have to pay a small yearly fee ($35) for DVR functionality on HDHomeRun, but it’s a much better deal overall.
What About Cable Replacement Services?
The NBA currently has broadcast partnerships with ABC, ESPN, TNT and NBA TV. Right now, Sling TV is the only cable replacement service that has all four.
The only sure-fire way to grab ABC games through Sling and other streaming services is via a TV antenna. Streaming companies are still in the process of working out individual deals with ABC affiliate stations – so you may or may not be able to get ABC through the web depending on which service you decide to buy into.
ABC: Maybe (but probably not because of licensing issues)
NBA TV: Yes
Sling offers the best channel lineup for NBA fans. With a $20 “Orange” subscription to Sling TV and the $5 Sports Extra, you can get all the cable channels you need to watch your local NBA team play every single game. The only questionable channel is ABC.
Sling TV has spotty local TV coverage, but if you’re lucky you might be able to watch ABC through Sling TV depending on where you live.
NBA TV: No
YouTube TV has best local TV broadcast coverage right now – and at $35, it’s cheaper than Hulu with Live TV. However, YouTube TV is not a great deal at all for NBA fans because TNT and NBA TV are not on the menu. The only NBA channel you can get via YouTube TV is ESPN.
Hulu with Live TV
NBA TV: No
Hulu with Live TV is slightly more expensive ($40) compared to YouTube TV, but it’s a better deal for NBA fans. Though Hulu with Live TV lacks NBA TV, it does have TNT, ESPN and decent ABC affiliate coverage.
NBA TV: Yes
Even with a recent promotion that lets you get fuboTV for $34.99, you won’t be too excited about the channel lineup you get if you like NBA basketball.
fuboTV is the odd man out compared to other major cable replacement services because it lacks ESPN and TNT, yet does have NBA TV.
Like Sling TV, fuboTV struggles when it comes to local broadcast coverage – but not quite as much.
Miss a Game? Catch Up With Free Game Replays
If you like to watch NBA games every once in a while but you’re not a hardcore fan, free YouTube NBA content may actually provide all the NBA action you need.
If you haven’t typed “NBA” into YouTube in a while, you may want to go do that now.
On the right side of the search results, YouTube serves up not only scores but also video recaps of all the recent matches.
The highlight videos you’ll find to the left of the scores contain zero commercial breaks (aside from YouTube’s embedded ads, which you can block with Adblock Plus) and offer up nothing but the most exciting plays.
Cord-cutting the NBA In a Nutshell
Cord-cutters that are into NBA basketball have a ton of options this season.
If you’re a casual basketball fan…
Free YouTube game recaps and an OTA antenna / TV tuner setup may be all you need.
If you just want to catch all your local team’s games…
An Orange subscription to Sling TV plus the Sports Extra add-on ($25, total) gives you a handful of cable channels and lets you catch all of your local NBA team’s games. However, the $17.99 One Team Pass version of NBA League Pass is also worth checking out if you want an easy way to see on-demand recordings of any games you miss.
If you follow an out-of-market team…
The $17.99 One Team edition of NBA League Pass is an outstanding deal because it lets you watch every game including all the ones that your regional TV channels won’t broadcast.
If you’re an NBA fanatic…
Level up and get the All Teams + More package from NBA League Pass for $39.99 per month. All Teams + More eliminates commercials plus it gives you access to live feeds and on-demand recordings of every single game. You can even geek out and use your VR system to watch NBA games, if you have one.