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2021-22 NBA season streaming guide: How to watch basketball games online right now

2021-22 NBA season streaming guide
LeBron James and new teammate Russell Westbrook lead the Los Angeles Lakers into action in the 2021-22 NBA season. Armchair fans can watch them in action, but which options are the best?  Adam Pantozzi/NBAE/Getty Images

The 2021-22 NBA season will not lack for storylines: Will LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and the new-look Los Angeles Lakers gel? Will the Dallas Mavericks' Luka Doncic make the leap to league MVP? And will any team topple the reigning champs, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks? The answers will be revealed in play that'll stretch from the Oct. 19 season-openers to the NBA Finals series, set for June 2022. Along the way, every game will be available to watch and stream live -- something that prompts even more questions: Chiefly, how will you catch the action?

To help you make the call, here's a viewing guide to the NBA season. Is NBA League Pass worth the investment? What's NBA Team Pass exactly? And how do the likes of DirecTV Stream and YouTube TV stack up? The answers will depend on everything from where you live to what team you root for, to whether you expect to watch dozens of live games during the season or hundreds.   

Here's one, big upfront truth: If you're a generalist who loves any and all kind of NBA action, there are a lot of options here for you. But if you're a diehard fan whose No. 1 priority is to watch every single live game played by your local NBA team, then blackout rules will make your viewing life a challenge -- and, outside of a traditional cable or satellite subscription, there's probably only one option listed here that'll satisfy. 

There's a lot to cover. Let's get this tipped off.  


NBA League Pass

NBA League Pass
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

NBA League Pass promises to deliver hundreds of live games, plus comprehensive access to full-length replays and condensed recaps. In short, it's almost the complete package. Key word: almost. More on that in a bit.   

But first, the price tag: NBA League Pass costs $200 for the full season. (Per the NBA website, "price drops [are] offered at select times.") NBA League Pass can also be purchased as a monthly subscription, for $29 a month.

The package can be streamed on a number of devices via NBA.com or the NBA app. Depending on your live-TV provider, if any, you may be able to purchase NBA League Pass as an add-on to your cable, satellite or streaming subscription.    

Now here's the part with the caveat: NBA League Pass will not get you every live game. In fact, it won't get you any live game that's aired nationally by ABC, ESPN, TNT or NBA TV. This is big. National broadcasts include all the Christmas Day games -- and, oh, by the way, the playoffs.    

NBA League Pass also won't spare you from local-market TV blackouts.   

In order to get every live game played everywhere, then you basically need NBA League Pass plus something else -- like, a cable subscription or a live-TV streaming service. And even that formula isn't always foolproof. 

In the end, NBA League Pass does offer a lot of games (including, as noted, all the replays). And if you go for NBA League Pass Premium, then you've got a lot of games without the commercials. 

NBA League Pass Premium costs $250 for the full season, or $40 per month. 

Watch the 2021-22 NBA season on NBA League Pass (subscription required)

Watch the 2021-22 NBA season on NBA League Pass Premium (subscription required)


NBA Team Pass

NBA Team Pass
Justin Casterline/Getty Images

NBA Team Pass is a streamlined version of NBA League Pass. For $120 for the full season (or $18 per month), you can watch live games (and replays) all season long for one out-of-market team of your choosing.

To emphasize: NBA Team Pass will not get you around blackout rules. As a result, the package probably works best if you're a fan who loves your team from afar -- you're a Milwaukee Bucks fan, for example, who lives in Alaska.

Like NBA League Pass, NBA Team Pass is available to stream via NBA.com or the NBA app. Unlike NBA League Pass, it's not offered by a lot of live-TV providers. (You can find a list of which cable, satellite and live-TV streamers offer League Pass, League Pass Premium and Team Pass on the NBA website.) 

Watch the 2021-22 NBA season on NBA Team Pass (subscription required)


NBA TV

NBA TV
Ron Turenne/NBAE/Getty Images

NBA TV is the NBA's traditional-style network with studio shows, and, per the NBA website, "up to" 100 live games over the course of the season.

Cable and satellite subscribers may find it already included in their channel lineups. Likewise, cord-cutters may have access to NBA TV via their usual live-TV streaming packages.   

For those without, NBA TV may be purchased as a stand-alone streamer for $60 for the full season, or $7 per month. You can also get it as a discounted add-on (for $30 annually, or $4 per month) with the purchase of a subscription for NBA League Pass, NBA League Pass Premium or NBA Team Pass.

And, yes, blackout rules apply to all live games carried by NBA TV. And, nope, there's no comprehensive access to full-game replays. 

NBA TV is probably best for general NBA fans who want to beef up their TV offerings, or completists who don't want to miss one second of available NBA content. 

Watch the 2021-22 NBA season on NBA TV (subscription required)


DirecTV Stream

DirecTV Stream
DirecTV (screenshot)

Starting here, we'll run through some of the leading live-TV streaming services -- and we'll start with DirecTV Stream. Formerly known as AT&T TV, this is the only live-TV streamer we found that gives you a real shot at getting your local team's live NBA games. 

For $85 a month, DirecTV's "Choice" package gets you ESPN, TNT, NBA TV and, if your ZIP code allows, your local ABC station and local regional sports networks. (Check the DirecTV website to see what local channels are available in your area.) The NBA-friendly configurations are also available in DirecTV's pricier "Ultimate" and "Premier" tiers.    

The bottom line: If you pair the right DirecTV Stream package with NBA League Pass, then your NBA streaming game will be unstoppable.   

Watch the 2021 NBA season on DirecTV Stream (subscription required) 


YouTube TV 

YouTube TV
Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images (photo illustration)

YouTube TV's basic service is regularly priced at $65 a month. It delivers more than 85 live-TV channels, including ESPN, TNT, NBA TV and, depending on your coverage area, ABC. (NBA League Pass is available as an add-on.) 

As of publication, YouTube TV was offering its basic package at $55 a month, for the first three months. 

Watch the 2021-22 NBA seasons on YouTube TV (subscription required)


Hulu Plus Live TV

Hulu Plus Live TV
Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images (photo illustration)

Regularly priced at $65 a month, Hulu Plus Live TV's basic subscription offers more than 75 live-TV channels, including ESPN, TNT and potentially your local ABC station. NBA TV is not included, and you can't purchase it as an add-on. 

Hulu Plus Live TV is good for the NBA fan who follows the regular-season national games, wants to watch the playoffs -- and appreciates a bundle deal that includes Disney+

At last look, Hulu Plus Live TV was offering a seven-day free trial, plus $10 off the first three months of a subscription. 

Watch the 2021-22 NBA season on Hulu Plus Live TV (subscription required)


FuboTV

FuboTV
Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images (photo illustration)

For $65 a month, FuboTV's "Starter" tier has the potential to deliver 112 live-TV channels, including ESPN. Depending on your area, ABC is included, too. The "fubo Extra" add-on package will get you dozens more channels, including NBA TV, for $8 a month. 

One major flaw with FuboTV's NBA game? No TNT. 

As of publication, FuboTV was offering a free trial at sign up.

Watch the 2021-22 NBA season on FuboTV (subscription required)


Sling TV

Sling TV
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

For $35 a month, Sling TV's "Orange" package will get you a decent number of live NBA games. The "Orange" tier features dozens of live-TV channels, including ESPN and TNT. You can add NBA TV to your lineup with the purchase of the $11-a-month "Sports Extra" tier. (NBA League Pass and NBA Team Pass can be purchased as add-ons.) 

There is one big hole in Sling TV's game: It does not offer live, local ABC channels. That means no ABC-aired NBA games, including the NBA Finals. 

Watch the 2021-22 NBA season on Sling TV (subscription required)


Gesobyte amplified HD digital TV antenna

Gesobyte amplified HD digital TV antenna
Gesobyte via Amazon

A digital TV antenna comes in handy for catching the live NBA games on ABC. The process can be easy: Plug it in, scan for channels and watch. The process can also be a nightmare: Plug it in, scan for channels, discover the antenna didn't find any of the channels you wanted, mutter, rescan, get a cup of coffee and hope for the best. In short, much like a live-TV streamer, an antenna might get you a bunch of local, free-TV channels, including ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox -- or it might not. 

As with the U Must Have indoor HD digital TV antenna that we've recommended in our MLB and NFL viewing guides, the Gesobyte amplified HD digital TV antenna is an Amazon best-seller that boasts a four-and-a-half-star rating based on thousands of user reviews. 

Gesobyte amplified HD digital TV antenna, $29


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