How to watch the NBA without a cable subscription

By Kevin Webb

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The 2020-21 NBA season is now underway, with all 30 teams scheduled to play 72 games on a condensed calendar due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The start of the season comes less than 75 days after the conclusion of the last NBA season, which saw the Los Angeles Lakers prevail over the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.

The championship duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis make the Lakers the favorites to win the finals again this year, but teams like the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers enter the season with overhauled rosters and their own championship aspirations.

Earlier this year, the NBA was able to finish the regular season and playoffs with 22 teams at a quarantined site in Orlando, but teams will be traveling for games during the 2020-21 season. Fans won't be allowed at games to start the season, and the NBA has installed a detailed protocol to prepare teams for potential coronavirus outbreaks.

The NBA season usually starts in October, but the pandemic pushed the start back to December 22. So far, the NBA has only released the first half of the season schedule in order to account for potential conflicts and other issues that may crop up during the winter. The NBA Playoffs typically begin in April, with the finals ending in June.

Updated on 12/23/2020 by Kevin Webb: This article has been revised with details for the 2020-21 NBA season.

How to watch the 2020-21 NBA regular season

The NBA season began on December 22; games are broadcast on ESPN, TNT, ABC, NBA TV and local team affiliates. You can stream games via the ESPN app,,,, or ABC app if you have an authenticated pay-TV provider with access to those channels. 

Live TV streaming services also offer select NBA games, including platforms like Sling TV, AT&T TV, Hulu + Live TV, Fubo TV, and YouTube TV.

AT&T TV is one of the most comprehensive options for streaming the NBA season. The service includes ABC, ESPN, TNT, and NBA TV under its Choice plan for $65 a month. As part of a limited-time offer, AT&T TV is even including NBA League Pass Premium when you sign up for its Choice plan or above. NBA League Pass Premium offers access to live, out-of-market regular season games.

YouTubeTV also offers ABC, ESPN, TNT, and NBA TV for $65 a month, providing full access to all of the major broadcast networks that show NBA games.

Meanwhile, Sling TV includes ESPN and TNT as part of its Orange plan for $30 a month. Subscribers can add NBA TV via the Sling Sports Extra package for an additional $10 a month. Alternatively, you can add NBA League Pass to an Orange membership for an extra $29 a month. On the downside, Sling does not include ABC. 

Hulu + Live TV features access to ESPN, TNT, and ABC for $65 a month. However, NBA TV is not offered.

FuboTV includes ESPN, ABC, and NBA TV for $80 a month under its Elite plan, but TNT is not currently available.

You can also sign up to stream the NBA TV channel directly for $7 per month or $60 per year.

What is NBA League Pass?

NBA League Pass is also available as a subscription service on its own. League Pass gives you access to hundreds of NBA games, including ones that are outside of your local TV market. With that said, local blackouts apply, and League Pass does not include games that are nationally televised.

You can pay $120 to watch one team's games all year, or $200 to access every team. The commercial free League Pass Premium costs $250 for the season. League Pass also allows monthly payments starting at $18, but you'll end up paying almost twice as much as the annual cost if you pay monthly all season.