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NBA Live Stream Guide 2018-2019: How to Legally Watch NBA Online

Looking for information on NBA live stream options? Here's the complete guide to legal ways to watch the NBA online for the 2018-2019 season.

Best Budget Option

Package

Youtube TV

YouTube TV gets you all the essential NBA channels and comes with unlimited cloud DVR.
$40/mo.
Free Trial
Most Channel Variety

Package

Go Big

DIRECTV NOW covers your NBA bases, plus tons of other channels.
$65/mo.
Free Trial
Best Traditional TV

Package

America's Top 200

DISH is your best bet for watching the NBA with a traditional satellite service.
$79.99/mo**
See Plans
Wild Card

Package

NBA League Pass

As long as you're not blacked out of games, NBA League Pass gets you the most NBA coverage.
$28.99/mo.
See Plans

If you’re visiting this page, it means that the NBA season is in session, or starting soon. And yes, you’re in the right place to learn how to watch the NBA online.

There’s so much to be excited about for the 2018–2019 NBA season. Is LeBron James seriously on the Lakers? Will the Celtics end up being the kryptonite for the Warriors? We all want answers, and that’s why we’re talking about how to livestream the NBA—so you don’t have to miss out on a single game.

Your options for watching the NBA without cable can be a bit overwhelming at first, but we’ve got your back. Below, we’ll be ranking the best streaming services that let you enjoy a quality NBA live stream on both national TV and local channels.

Watch NBA Online: National TV Coverage

First things first—there are four channels you’ll need to get NBA national coverage: ESPN, TNT, NBATV, and ABC. Now, let’s look at which of your streaming options carry the channels we need.

YouTube TV logoDIRECTV NOW logoHulu Live TV
ABC
ESPN
NBATV
TNT
Free TrialFree TrialSee PlansFree Trial

Watch NBA Online: Local Coverage

Now that we know which services give us the most NBA national games, let’s talk about local coverage. Most of your favorite team’s games (unless you’re the Lakers) won’t air on ABC, ESPN, NBA TV, or TNT, so you’ll want to make sure you get your team’s local channel as well.

Here’s a look at the local coverage for every team. Keep in mind that you have to live within the respective regions to stream these channels:

YouTube TV logoDIRECTV NOW logoHulu Live TV
Free TrialFree TrialSee PlansFree Trial
Atlanta Hawks (Fox Sports South)
Boston Celtics (CSN New England)
Brooklyn Nets (YES Network)
Charlotte Hornets (FOX Sports Carolinas)
Chicago Bulls (CSN Chicago)
Cleveland Cavaliers (FOX Sports Ohio)
Dallas Mavericks (FOX Sports Southwest)
Denver Nuggets (Altitude) ***
Detroit Pistons (FOX Sports Detroit)
Golden State Warriors (CSN Bay Area)
Houston Rockets (Root Sports) ***
Indiana Pacers (FOX Sports Indiana)
Los Angeles Clippers (Fox Sports West)
Los Angeles Lakers (Spectrum Sportsnet) ***
Memphis Grizzlies (Fox Sports Tennessee)
Miami Heat (Fox Sports Sun)
Milwaukee Bucks (Fox Sports Wisconsin)
Minnesota Timberwolves (Fox Sports North)
New Orleans Pelicans (Fox Sports New Orleans)
New York Knicks (MSG Network) ***
Oklahoma City Thunder (Fox Sports Oklahoma)
Orlando Magic (Fox Sports Florida)
Philadelphia 76ers (CSN Philly)
Phoenix Suns (Fox Sports Arizona)
Portland Trailblazers (CSN Northwest) *
Sacramento Kings (CSN California)
San Antonio Spurs (Fox Sports Southwest) **
Toronto Raptors (TSN and SportsNet) ***
Utah Jazz (AT&T SportsNet) ***
Washington Wizards (CSN Mid-Atlantic)
*Portland Trailblazers split their games between CSN Northwest and NBC affiliate KGW, which you can stream for free here and should be available in your streaming package
** San Antonio Spurs will stream 10 games over the CBS affiliated KENS, which you can stream for free here and should be available in your streaming package
*** Don’t panic! We’ve got pages that explain how to livestream the NBA teams that aren’t carried by the major streaming services. Just click the name of your team above to learn more.

We get it—that’s a big table. So how should it influence which streaming service you ultimately pick to watch the NBA online? We recommend following these steps:

  1. Find your team on the regional coverage table and see which streaming services carry the local channels you need.
  2. After that, check out the national coverage table above and make sure you’re getting all the national channels needed too.
  3. If you find a good match, scroll down to see some of the pros and cons for each streaming service.

Best Services to Livestream the NBA

Without further ado, let’s get into our rankings for best streaming services to watch the NBA online. The main factors that go into our rankings are price, channel coverage, and bonus features like cloud DVRs.

#1 YouTube TV: The cheapest way to get your NBA fix

Best Budget Option

Youtube TV

Channels
73+ Channels
Price
$40/mo.

This service is available on these devices

Free Trial

What we like about it: Unlimited cloud DVR

Who it’s perfect for: Fans looking for the cheapest NBA option

Drawbacks: No channel package upgrades

Out of all the streaming services out there, YouTube TV is your cheapest option for streaming the NBA. You can watch the NBA for free, at least for a little while, with the service’s 7-day trial.

$40 a month for NBA coverage

You only have one package to choose from with YouTube TV, but it should cover your NBA bases (rims? hoops?) pretty well. The YouTube TV channel package comes with ABC, ESPN, NBA TV, TNT, and tons of local sports coverage.

You get around 50 other channels on top of that. That’s pretty good for a streaming service, but it doesn’t hold a candle to DIRECTV NOW or DISH’s channel count. You get what you pay for. Hey, at least it beats paying Luol Deng $17 million a year.

If you’re looking for an efficient double-double (reasonable price and solid NBA coverage), then YouTube TV is for you.

Unlimited cloud DVR storage

Not home on Thursday nights to enjoy a game with Kenny, Charles, Ernie, and the gang? Fortunately, you can record every NBA game that you get with YouTube TV’s unlimited cloud DVR.

Seriously, you don’t even have to think about it—just hit the record button for everything you want, and watch the NBA whenever it’s convenient for you.

All of the content you record has a nine-month expiration date, so make sure you stay at least sort of up to date with your recordings. This shouldn’t be that hard for an NBA fan. After all, would you really want to watch a Hawks vs. Magic game a year after it aired? Heck, you probably wouldn’t watch that matchup period. Sorry, Atlanta and Orlando.

YouTube TV device compatibility

YouTube TV works with the mainstreaming devices, like Apple TV, Chromecast, and Roku.

TV & Video Players:

  • Amazon Fire TV
  • Apple TV
  • Chromecast
  • Roku

Phones & Tablets:

  • iPhone
  • iPad
  • Amazon Fire tablets
  • Android phones
  • Android tablets

Gaming Consoles:

  • Xbox One

Laptops & Computers:

  • Macs
  • PCs

#2 DIRECTV NOW: NBA and pretty much everything else

Most Channel Variety

Go Big

Channels
100+ Channels
Price
$65/mo.

This service is available on these devices

Free Trial

What we like about it: Tons of channels to flip through

Who it’s perfect for: NBA fans and channel flippers alike

Drawbacks: Weak cloud DVR

Coming in second place for best way to livestream the NBA is DIRECTV NOW. Altogether, it has an insane number of channels for not all that much money. You can watch the NBA online for free with a DIRECTV NOW 7-day trial.

NBA plus lots of other channels

We all want some TV variety in our lives, especially if you’re a Brooklyn Nets fan. Joking! We meant to say New York Knicks fan. Before this joke gets any worse, you should know that DIRECTV NOW hooks you up with ABC, ESPN, NBA TV, TNT, and plenty of local sports coverage, plus over 100 other channels for $65 a month. That’s everything you need to watch this NBA season, plus plenty of prime-time entertainment the rest of the year, too.

This is the part where you’ll need to decide if DIRECTV NOW and the extra 40-50 channels are worth paying $25 more than you would with YouTube TV.

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Cheap premium channels

This has nothing to do with the NBA, but it’s worth mentioning that DIRECTV NOW gets you premium channels for a legit bargain. Getting HBO for $5 a month with DIRECTV NOW is like getting Anthony Davis on a mid-level contract. Last year HBO did a special on the NBA finals.

20 hours of cloud DVR storage

Compared to YouTube TV’s unlimited cloud DVR storage, DIRECTV NOW’s 20 hours feels very . . . limited. You’ll need to channel some Brad Stevens–level management here to make 20 hours of cloud DVR storage work.

That means deleting basically everything right after you watch it, and keeping up with your backlog regularly. We’re not saying it’s impossible, but you’ll need to get organized.

DIRECTV NOW compatibility

You can stream the NBA on DIRECTV NOW on basically any streaming device out there.

TV & Video Players:

  • Amazon Fire TV
  • Apple TV
  • Chromecast
  • Roku

Phones & Tablets:

  • iPhone
  • iPad
  • Android phones

Gaming Consoles:

  • none

Laptops & Computers:

  • Macs (Safari)
  • PCs (Chrome)

Watch the NBA for free using the DIRECTV NOW free trial.

#3 DISH: Watch the NBA without relying on your internet connection

Best Traditional TV

America's Top 200

Channels
240+ channels
Price
$79.99/mo**
**For 24 months with a 2-year contract and eAutoPay
See Plans

What we like about it: No internet connection required

Who it’s perfect for: Fans looking for the best traditional TV option

Drawbacks: Price

For those of you who are as hesitant to cut the cord as Derrick Rose is to take a three-pointer, then DISH is your best bet for watching the NBA. Check out the DISH plans available in your area.

Watch NBA with the most local coverage

If you take a look at the local channel coverage table above , you’ll see that teams like the Lakers, Knicks, Jazz, and Rockets aren’t available on TV streaming services. That’s not the case with satellite providers. You can watch LeBron and the Lakers on Spectrum SportsNet, or enjoy James Harden and Chris Paul on ROOT SPORTS.

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A reminder of what teams you can’t stream:

● Los Angeles Lakers: Spectrum SportsNet
● Utah Jazz: ROOT Sports
● Houston Rockets: ROOT Sports
● New York Knicks: MSG Network

To get all the NBA coverage you need, we recommend America’s Top 200 channel package for $79.99 a month. It’s got ABC, ESPN, NBA TV, and TNT, plus it’s guaranteed to have your local sports networks.

Yes, it costs way more than a streaming service, but you get over 200 channels. Options are always a good thing; it seems to be working for the Warriors.

500 hours of DVR storage

Enough of this cloud DVR nonsense—with DISH, we’re talking about a box that sits on your TV and saves everything you record for as long as you want. Well, you can save everything at least until you hit 500 hours of recorded HD content, max.

That’s how many hours you get with DISH’s DVR system, the Hopper 3. Total, that means you can record more than 150 NBA games before you need to start thinking about deleting some. You might have an NBA-obsession problem if you have 150 recorded NBA games on your DVR (and we’re very proud of you for that).

Want to learn more about watching the NBA on DISH? Check out our full DISH review for more info.

Wild Card: NBA League Pass

NBA League Pass

Price
$28.99/mo.
See Plans

What we like about it: So much NBA to watch

Who it’s perfect for: NBA fanatics

Drawbacks: Can’t watch your local team or national games

If none of the other options work for watching the NBA, you can always consider the nuclear option. Get (almost) all the NBA, (almost) all the time with NBA League Pass.

NBA League Pass pricing and plans

NBA League Pass is broken down into three different packages.

The cheapest of the three—the NBA Team Pass—gives you access to only one team, and it’ll cost you $119.99 for the season, or $17.99 a month. This package was made for transplants who are obsessed with a single team.

So let’s say you were born and raised in wonderful Orange County, California, and you moved to Salt Lake City, Utah for some reason. You can watch all those local Lakers games and wonder why you ever moved in the first place. This may have been autobiographical.

The second and most popular package, the NBA League Pass subscription, costs $199.99 for the whole season or $28.99 a month. With this package, you can stream the local games for literally every team in the NBA (except the team that lives in your area). Hopefully, you don’t have any plans for the next seven or so months—you’ll be busy.

The third and most expensive package, NBA League Pass Premium, gives you access to the local coverage of every team and replaces commercials with in-arena streaming. That way you can watch all those kiss cam rejections and mascots dunking with trampolines. You’ll need to decide if the in-arena stream is worth the $249.99 for the season or $39.99 a month, though.

Everything you need to know about NBA League Pass blackouts

Okay—let’s talk about blackouts. We briefly mentioned it in the previous section, but just to reiterate, you can’t watch your local NBA team using any NBA League Pass package. It’s kind of ironic, but that’s the truth of the matter.

You also can’t watch nationally televised games on NBA League Pass either. So, if the game is on ABC, ESPN, NBA TV, or TNT, you can’t rely on NBA League Pass for your fix.

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Get around NBA League Pass blackouts with a VPN

If you’re committed to making NBA League Pass work despite all the lame geographic restrictions, consider a VPN. You can make it seem like you’re watching from a different location and enjoy your local team with League Pass.

Check our guide to the best VPNs here.

When you’re not blacked out, watching the NBA on League Pass is pretty amazing. You can pause, rewind, and watch replays of games. There’s tons of supplementary content like highlights and game breakdowns, too. It’s really an NBA fanatic’s dream.

Hulu Live TV: Watch the NBA online and binge-watch

Starting At $39.99/mo
Price
$39.99 - $43.99
Channels
55
Access to Hulu's streaming library
Watch live NBA and on-demand shows
Free Trial

What we like about it: Access to Hulu’s stream library

Perfect for: Fans who love the NBA and binge-watching

Drawbacks: No NBATV

Hulu Live TV may be last on our list, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t the right choice for you. The reason why it’s at the bottom of our list is because it doesn’t carry NBATV. If you’re reading this, you’re probably a huge NBA fan, and you’ll want NBATV.

Hulu Live TV Pricing and Plans

Hulu Live TV costs $39.99 a month, but ABC, ESPN, and TNT and plenty of other great channels are included in that package. You’ll just need to live with missing the games and programs that air on NBATV. Which, for an NBA junkie, can be a pretty hard ask.

Currently, Hulu Live TV only has one package, and there isn’t much in the way of upgrades. Meaning, there’s little to no channel customization. But keep in mind that a subscription to Hulu Live TV includes access to Hulu’s entire streaming library, which means you can watch the Los Angeles Lakers play the Washington Wizards and then binge-watch Brooklyn 99 or Seinfeld.

Watching the NBA on Hulu Live TV

Despite the notable exception of not carrying NBATV (yet), Hulu Live TV does everything else really well. It carries tons of local sports coverage, includes cloud DVR, and covers most of the national NBA games. But until Hulu Live TV adds NBATV to their channel lineup, we can’t, in good conscience, recommend it for livestreaming the NBA. Once they do, they’ll shoot up our list.

Hulu Live TV Device Compatibility

You can stream the NBA on Hulu Live TV using pretty much any device that isn’t a PlayStation console or Samsung device. Here’s a complete list of compatible devices:

TV & Video Players:

  • Amazon Fire TV
  • Apple TV
  • Chromecast
  • Roku

Phones & Tablets:

  • iPhone
  • iPad
  • Android phones
  • Android tablets

Gaming Consoles:

  • Xbox One
  • Xbox 360

Laptops & Computers:

  • Macs
  • PCs

If you want to give Hulu Live TV a try, you can stream the NBA for free with a free trial.

Start watching the NBA now

If you want to legally stream the NBA, these are the best options you’ll find. What are you waiting for? Don’t you want to watch James Harden try to repeat his MVP season or Russell Westbrook continue to defy the laws of physics? In fact, I’m going to go watch the NBA right now.

Any questions about watching the NBA? Feel free to reach out and contact us for answers.

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