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Our NBA League Pass review for 2020: Everything you need to know

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Feb 14, 2020 — 8 min read

NBA League Pass

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  • Watch live games in HD
  • Different plans include every NBA game or just your favorite team
  • Option to watch replays in a condensed format
  • Five simultaneous streams
  • No free trial on any plans

NBA League Pass is a standalone sports streaming service that lets you watch out-of-market NBA games and catch your favorite teams in action. It comes with multiple levels of access, catering to both casual viewers and die-hard basketball fans. With add-on features like virtual reality (VR) support and audio streaming, this package perfectly balances convenience with special trimmings.

It even gives you exclusive access to classic games, allowing you to relive the most memorable moments in NBA history. With NBA League Pass, you get to watch tons of content live, except for local blackouts and nationally-broadcast games.

Compare NBA League Pass plans

You have several NBA League Pass plans to choose from: NBA TV, NBA Team Pass, NBA League Pass and NBA League Pass Premium. But note that blackout restrictions apply across all plans, so you won’t be able to watch local and nationally-broadcast games. 

NBA TV subscribers get live access to NBA TV games but not to other channels like ABC or ESPN. With this plan, you’ll be able to watch exhibition, playoff and regular-season games along with related analysis programs, documentaries and specials. It’s a lot like ESPN, but for the NBA. 

NBA Team Pass lets you follow one team and watch out-of-market broadcasts of their games. For $55.99/yr. or $19.99/mo., this plan makes sense if you’re a fan of an out-of town team. 

You also have the option to choose between the basic NBA League Pass and NBA League Pass Premium plans. Though NBA League Pass Premium costs $30/yr. more than the basic NBA League Pass plan, it lets you watch your favorite games without commercial interruptions. Instead, you get to stay in the arena during breaks for an authentic in-game experience.

Other than that, these two plans have similar features. They both offer access to classic games, condensed or full-length game replays and live games in HD. And they each allow five simultaneous streams on five different devices.

Die-hard basketball fans will love the option to add an NBA TV subscription to their NBA League Pass Premium plan. While this bundle package will set you back $219.99/yr., it comes with a few extra bells and whistles, including access to live NBA TV games and exclusive NBA TV shows. You’ll get live access to games aired on NBA TV, which other NBA League Pass plans don’t offer. This package even lets you stream every NBA Finals game between 2000 and 2019 — a tempting offer for ardent fans. 

Are there any add-ons?

Besides these two main plans, NBA League Pass comes with a few add-on options:

  • VR live streaming — Use your VR-supported devices to access live streams of VR-enabled games and enjoy a lifelike in-court experience. Get this add-on with a one-time payment of $49.99.
  • Home/Away radio streaming — For a one-time payment of $9.99, listen to live radio streams of every game with no blackouts. We recommend this add-on for serious fans who can’t get enough hardcourt action. 

Plus, if the recurring plans above don’t appeal to you, you can always purchase a single game for $5.99 provided it doesn’t fall under a local or national blackout.

What about cable packages?

Most major TV providers offer NBA League Pass as an add-on service. This includes providers like AT&T, Cox, DIRECTV, Sling TV and Spectrum. However, an NBA League Pass subscription through your cable provider will limit the number of games you can watch per week. For instance, AT&T only offers up to 40 games in a week and up to 20 games in HD.

Each provider also has a different payment plan. For instance, AT&T offers the add-on for $29.99/mo. for five months, while Spectrum gives you the option to pay in four installments of $37.25 each. In addition, your cable provider will determine what features you’ll have access to.

For this NBA League Pass review, we only focused on the user experience for the app and web version. So some information may not apply if you order through your cable company, as each provider may offer a different experience.

What types of games do you get with NBA League Pass?

Whether you want to stream a game as it happens or relive notable moments in NBA history, NBA League Pass subscriptions offer extensive access to different types of games. However, your choice of plan determines the amount and type of content you can access:

  • Live League Pass games – Watch live NBA games for the entire season. This includes every game, including All-Star, NBA Finals, Playoffs, Preseason, Regular season and Summer League action. But note that locally and nationally televised games will be unavailable to watch live. 
  • Live NBA TV games – NBA TV and Premium + NBA TV subscribers will have access to live broadcasts of NBA TV games. However, blackout restrictions still apply for games broadcast locally or nationally.
  • Archived games – Replay any game in full. Those who often miss live games due to their work schedule will love this option. NBA TV-only subscribers won’t have this option.
  • Condensed games – Replay a condensed version of any archived game. This option works well if you want to quickly catch up on highlights and results.  
  • Classic games – Stream some of the greatest games in NBA history and watch your favorite basketball legends in action. This feature is not available with NBA TV or NBA Team Pass-only subscriptions.
  • TNT overtime – Enjoy handpicked TNT broadcasts throughout the season.
  • Every NBA Finals game from 2000-2019 – NBA TV and Premium + NBA TV subscribers will also have access to every Finals series between 2000 and 2019. 

Are there any blackouts or restrictions on what you can watch?

Note that local blackouts and restrictions on nationally-broadcast games still apply across all NBA Team Pass, League Pass and League Pass Premium plans. But for those who subscribe to NBA TV or purchase the NBA Premium + NBA TV bundle, games broadcast on NBA TV will be available to watch live. Blackout restrictions on all other locally and nationally televised games still apply for these two plans.

A local blackout means you won’t get to live stream certain games based on your location as the local broadcaster holds exclusive broadcasting rights. For example, someone in New York can’t view live games of the Brooklyn Nets or the New York Knicks. You can either catch the game live on your local channel or wait for three days to watch the archived game on NBA League Pass.

Under a national blackout, games broadcast on ABC, ESPN, NBA TV and TNT are unavailable to watch live. But subscribers will be able to view games three hours after broadcast. If you must catch live NBA TV games, consider going for the NBA League Pass Premium and NBA TV bundle. 

For those who need a pocket-friendly solution to keep up with live games, consider the Home/Away audio streaming add-on. This lets you listen to live radio streams of home and away games with no blackouts. And you only need to pay a one-time fee of $9.99.

What’s the user experience like?

The navigation experience on NBA League Pass is nothing short of seamless on most devices. The intuitive layout lets you check game times, live scores and schedules with ease.

But the mobile experience for the NBA League Pass app leaves room for improvement. Despite a straightforward layout, you might come across some usability issues like screens automatically switching from landscape to portrait and disrupting the stream.

And although the subscription allows simultaneous streaming on multiple devices, the mobile app has been giving users some trouble regarding this. Due to a bug in the system, the app sometimes disconnects your stream with a “logged into too many devices” error even when you’re using only one.

Bugs aside, you should be able to simultaneously launch up to five streams on up to five devices at a time. This option works great for families and friend groups, where each member wants to watch a different game. The Mosaic option permits viewers to watch multiple games on a single screen. This makes it much easier to keep up with different games broadcasting at the same time.

Is there an option to fast forward through commercials?             

When it comes to convenience, the NBA League Pass app falls behind as it doesn’t provide a fast-forward option. So you won’t be able to skip commercials, even for archived games. The service offers condensed versions of archived games that let you get straight to the highlights. 

Which streaming devices work with NBA League Pass?

NBA League Pass works with most devices via the official nba.com website. You can also access it through the NBA app on the following devices:

Connected devices

  • Amazon Fire TV and Fire Stick
  • Android TV
  • Apple TV 3 and above
  • Roku 3 and above

Gaming consoles

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One

Mobile and tablets

  • Android phone (version 5.0 and higher)
  • Android tablet (version 5.0 and higher)
  • iPad (iOS 11.0 and higher)
  • iPhone (iOS 11.0 and higher)
  • Kindle Fire

Virtual reality/mixed reality

  • Google Daydream
  • HTC Vive
  • Magic Leap One
  • Oculus Go
  • Oculus Rift
  • PlayStation VR
  • Samsung Gear VR
  • Windows Mixed Reality

What internet speed do you need for NBA League Pass?

NBA.com recommends at least 5 Mbps for a smooth streaming experience and especially for streaming live games in HD. Any speed lower than this will create inconsistencies in the stream and cause issues like slow-syncing scores. If you’re not sure what speeds you’re currently getting, use our speed test below to find out.

Is NBA League Pass worth it?

With an extensive collection of classic content and live HD streams of games, our NBA League Pass review rates the package as a must-have for die-hard basketball fans.

When deciding between NBA League Pass plans, note that they offer most of the same basic features with slight variations here and there. For instance, the premium option gets you in-arena streaming and lets you watch what’s happening on the court even during commercial breaks. Some viewers may not find this feature worth an extra $30/yr., in which case the basic plan works just fine.

NBA Team Pass works well for those following a single team, but it has certain limitations. You won’t have access to classic games or get VR support. Plus, you’ll have to make sure local and national blackouts don’t apply to the games you want to watch.

While the local and national blackout issue may dissuade some viewers, you still have the option to get no-blackout live radio streams as an add-on. Plus if you go for the NBA TV plan or add it to NBA League Pass Premium, you’ll still have access to live games on NBA TV.