October brings with it many things: Pumpkins, scary movie marathons, scarves, and for sports fans, the return of the NBA. The world’s greatest basketball league is back for the 2018-19 season, and the landscape has changed a lot over the summer. Lebron James is now a Laker, Jimmy Butler is apparently trying to get out of the Timberwolves organization or burn it down, and the Western Conference is about to be bloodier than the climax of a Dario Argento film.
If you’re a cord cutter, you won’t struggle to keep up with the basketball action, as the NBA is one of the most tech-forward sports leagues in the world. The league partners with a variety of broadcasters that offer streaming services, and even offers its own streaming experience.
The NBA has its own official streaming service, NBA League Pass, which offers a lot of games, albeit with a few strings attached. Users can purchase a few different tiers of subscriptions: The standard League Pass ($200 a year), which gives access to all games for all teams, along with replays of newer and classic games; League Pass Premium ($250 a year), which adds in in-arena streams during breaks; or a One Team pass ($120 a year), which gives viewers access to all the games, replays, and audio broadcasts for a single team. Users can also purchase individual games for $7. Note that League Pass users don’t get live access to games that are “blacked out,” meaning they are running on your local sports station or are nationally televised.
If you own a virtual reality headset, League Pass also offers a VR experience for some games.
ESPN’s companion video client, WatchESPN, gives NBA fans live access to any game set to stream on either ESPN or ESPN 2. The service does require users to sign in with a compatible cable or satellite subscription, hindering access to those who’ve completely gone off the grid. Nevertheless, those who possess the required credentials — or who know someone that does — can gain access to the exact same broadcast as those who choose to watch on television. This basically means you won’t miss out on hearing Jeff Van Gundy go on about fired coaches, the best ways to stop LeBron James from scoring, and his righteous disdain for flopping.
Similar to WatchESPN, TNT offers online streaming of whatever currently airs on either of its TNT West or TNT East broadcasts. Like ESPN’s app, TNT requires users to tether a compatible cable or satellite subscription to the website in order to view the content. Simply enter your cable or satellite provider’s sign-in information when the site prompts you to gain access to both of TNT’s available streams.
Bleacher Report’s live video service offers users access to a variety of sports, but B/R’s crown jewel might be the NBA. Since Bleacher Report is owned by Turner Broadcasting Systems, the service provides access to games available via NBA League Pass, and users who are strapped for time have the option to purchase portions of games, in a move NBA Commissioner Adam Silver likens to video game “microtransactions.” Users can watch a particular quarter, so if you won’t be getting off work until the fourth quarter, you won’t need to pay for the whole game to watch the finale. You can even purchase, according to Silver, 15 minutes of a game, if you only have a little time in your schedule.
The new cord-cutter’s special from Dish Network provides a great way to watch the NBA live without a cable or satellite subscription. Subscribers to Sling TV’s introductory $20 per month package get channels such as TNT and ESPN, granting even basic users access to a host of basketball action.
Like Dish Network, Sony joined the cord-cutting revolution and now offers subscriptions for its own version of an online streaming service, PlayStation Vue. Subscribers have access to channels such as ESPN, TNT, ABC, and a host of other top-tier networks.
An incredible resource for information about virtually everything, Reddit touts more than enough NBA-specific information to satisfy any and all basketball fans. Even in the offseason, the /r/NBA community remains active and weirdly productive, so expect loads of content related to each matchup including interviews, game videos, injury news, and memes of varying quality. Reddit’s loyal user base generates the site’s wealth of content. On game days, you’ll find plenty of NBA-themed stories, chat threads, and even alternative (if legally dubious) streaming sites.
While Reddit is a fantastic resource for getting your NBA fill, it’s entirely too easy to waste entire weekends poking around the rest of the site. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Though not a video option, ESPN regularly offers its signature play-by-play Gamecast presentation for each game. Simply head over to the NBA’s scoreboard page via the ESPN website, click the game you’d like to “watch,” and wait for the desired Gamecast window to open. This feature shows real-time events, including every basket, dunk, foul, and Chris Paul flop. Gamecast also lists each team’s stats, highlight videos, and what’s trending on Twitter.