Key Takeaways: How to Watch NBA Games for Free
- The best way to watch NBA games for free officially is via a free trial with the NBA League Pass, which is available globally except for in a few countries. Those in the U.S. can also add their League Pass to live TV streaming services like fuboTV or YouTube TV.
- Games are sometimes blacked out in certain areas in the U.S. and Canada because of exclusive broadcasting rights. You can use a VPN to get around these blackouts.
- We recommend ExpressVPN for bypassing blackouts, but NordVPN and Proton VPN are worthy alternatives.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) is one of the most eagerly-anticipated events for basketball fans in the U.S. and abroad. If you’re in the U.S. and have cable, it’s easy to tune in on ABC, ESPN or TNT, but if you’re overseas, knowing how to watch NBA games for free or with a subscription can be trickier.
What’s more, geoblocking can make things even harder if you’ve been left disappointed by regional blackouts. Fortunately, a secure VPN like ExpressVPN can get around these blocks.
In this guide, we’ll share the best way to watch NBA games around the world and how to use a VPN if you need one. We’ll also explore alternative streaming options and give you a heads-up on precautions to take if you opt for “unofficial” streaming sites.
11/01/2021 Facts checked
Cloudwards updated this guide to include new information on where to stream NBA games and which VPNs to consider.
Updated information about ExpressVPN, our top VPN recommendation for watching the NBA online.
11/29/2023 Facts checked
This guide has been rewritten with the most up-to-date information on how to stream the NBA games in the U.S. and overseas. We’ve also added steps and more detailed VPN recommendations.
Where Can I Stream NBA Games for Free: Live & On-Demand
We’re afraid that none of the official streaming platforms that broadcast NBA games are truly free, though you can get a free trial to stream NBA games (more on this below). There are a few unofficial free sites that host live NBA games, including VIPBox Sports and StreamEast, but these kinds of sites include links to copyrighted content.
Instead of going for free sites, we would urge our readers to explore one of the official methods for the best quality and most reliable streaming. Furthermore, free sites are full of pop-ups, which may infect your device with malware.
If you do decide to use unofficial free live streaming sites, we’d strongly urge you to use a virtual private network (VPN) and anti-virus software to double up on your security.
Where to Live Stream NBA Games in the US: Free Trials & Cheapest Options
The best way to stream NBA games in the U.S. and abroad is via the NBA League Pass, which we’ll explain more about below.
You can also watch NBA games on live streaming services in the U.S., including fuboTV (free trial available), Sling TV and YouTube TV (free trial available), but you still need to purchase the NBA League Pass to make this happen. Hulu with Live TV is another option.
What Is the NBA League Pass, NBA TV & NBA CrunchTime?
The NBA League Pass is a subscription service that lets you watch NBA games live and on-demand on the NBA TV website (the main hub for all things NBA) on your desktop, mobile or on other devices like Roku.
You can opt for a seasonal or monthly package, and there are two plan types to choose from: the standard NBA League Pass and NBA League Pass Premium, which comes with no ads and lets you stream on up to three devices at a time. When you sign up, you get a seven-day free trial to help you decide whether you want to continue long-term.
Fortunately, the League Pass is available in most countries, so geoblocking won’t be an issue for most, but there are some exceptions. In Iraq, Nicaragua and Venezuela, you need to buy it via AirG. The League Pass is unavailable in:
- 🇯🇵 Japan
- 🇨🇳 China
- 🇨🇺 Cuba
- 🇧🇾 Belarus
- 🇰🇵 North Korea
- 🇨🇬 Democratic Republic of Congo
- 🇱🇾 Libya
- 🇮🇷 Iran
- 🇸🇾 Syria
- 🇸🇴 Somalia
- 🇸🇩 Sudan
- 🇿🇼 Zimbabwe
- 🇷🇺 Russia
NBA CrunchTime gives you access to live “whiparound” NBA coverage, and it’s free to watch without an NBA League Pass Subscription via the NBA app for viewers in the U.S. and Canada. It usually goes live on Monday nights, but they sometimes add extra dates.
How to Get the NBA League Pass for Cheap
The NBA League Pass subscription price differs by country. In the United States, the standard League Pass currently costs $99.99 for the season, but it’s sold for much cheaper in some countries. For example, in India, it currently costs around $18 for the season.
To get the pass for cheaper, connect to a VPN in a country where it’s inexpensive — like India — and visit the NBA League Pass subscription page to sign up. You should see the price in local currency, for example an Indian VPN server will result in a price in Rupees. You can experiment with different countries and compare prices by using an online currency converter.
What Are NBA Blackouts & How Can I Bypass Them?
Your NBA League Pass gives you unrestricted access to all the games except, believe it or not, in the U.S. and Canada. When a blackout occurs in your area, you can’t watch the game live with your League Pass or on a live streaming service like Hulu with Live TV.
Sometimes, regional NBA blackouts happen in the U.S. and Canada because not every content provider has the right to broadcast a game live. It all depends on your location, and those lucky viewers outside the U.S. and Canada aren’t affected.
There are two pieces of good news, though. The first: You can still watch blacked-out games on demand after the fact. Even better: You can use a VPN to change your IP address and avoid blackouts altogether. Find out how in the next section.
How to Watch NBA Games During Blackouts With a VPN
To watch NBA basketball games online free of blackouts, all you need to do is connect to a VPN server in a location where the game won’t be blacked out. Those in the U.S. can check for blackouts by entering their zip code in the “What Can I Watch?” page on NBA TV. Learn more about blackouts on NBA TV’s blackouts information page.
- Get a VPN
Subscribe to a worthy VPN provider like ExpressVPN (more recommendations below), which has a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Download and Install the VPN
Navigate to the “download” tab on the provider’s website or download the app to your mobile via the Apple app store or Google Play store. Install the VPN on your device.
- Connect to a Server
Open the VPN app and sign in. Open the server list in the VPN’s app and search for a location where the game won’t be blacked out. For example, if a game you want to watch will be blacked out in Georgia but not in New York, connect to a server in New York. Click or tap “connect.”
- Start Streaming
Log in to the service you use (League Pass, Hulu with Live TV, etc.) and start streaming the NBA game you want to watch.
The Best VPNs for Watching NBA Games Online
A truly secure (not all of them are), fast VPN is well worth the investment, whether you want to watch NBA games online or stream a Netflix series that isn’t available in your country. In short, all streamers should have one, and here are three excellent services to check out.
- Very fast
- Tight security
In a nutshell, we recommend ExpressVPN to watch NBA online because it’s the most consistent service when it comes to unblocking streaming services. What’s more, this veteran provider has all the qualities that make a good streaming VPN: fast speeds, tight security and user-friendliness. In fact, ExpressVPN is the easiest VPN for beginners to use.
That said, ExpressVPN lacks in one area: pricing and plans. There are only three plans to choose from, and all of them are pricier than average. Luckily, you can get a 30-day money-back guarantee to experiment with it risk-free. Our ExpressVPN review goes into more detail.
- Best speeds on average
- Reasonable long-term plans
- Strong streaming speeds
- Minor usability issues
NordVPN is a close contender for the best VPN, missing out on the top spot by a hair. It excels in two areas in particular: speed and pricing. Our daily speed tests have revealed that NordVPN maintains the most consistent download and upload speeds. Its latency is also consistently low, which is especially important for gamers. Learn more in our NordVPN review.
As for pricing, NordVPN offers more flexibility in the plans you can choose, and its long-term plans are pretty cheap. It also has a 30-day money-back guarantee. On the other hand, NordVPN is harder to use than ExpressVPN in some ways. Its mobile interface feels a bit clunky, and the more advanced features can be finicky to set up. Nevertheless, NordVPN is still a great streaming VPN.
3. Proton VPN
- Free plan with no data limits
- Free servers in the U.S.
- Decent speeds
- Limited free locations
Truly secure free VPNs are worth their weight in gold, and Proton VPN is one of them. Without having to enter any credit card details, you can sign up for a free plan with no data limits and use those free servers as much as you want. Proton VPN is the ideal free option for changing your location in the U.S. because it hosts free servers there.
Proton VPN’s free plan comes with its limits, though. You can only access free servers in the U.S., Japan and the Netherlands, and the free servers are typically slower because they’re busier. Dig into the finer details in our Proton VPN review.
We hope that NBA fans can click away from this guide equipped to handle blackouts and ready to watch all the action, from the first game to the NBA finals, from anywhere.
Will you be watching the NBA games this year? Do you have any experience using a VPN to deal with regional blackouts? If so, let us know about it in the comments. Thanks for reading.
FAQ: Stream NBA Games Online
Officially, you can only watch online for free with a League Pass free trial. If you use unofficial free sites, be sure to cover your back with a VPN and antivirus software.
The cheapest way to watch the NBA games is to connect to a VPN server in a country where the NBA League Pass is cheaper and pay for your subscription that way.
The best way to watch NBA live is to get the NBA League Pass, which is available in most countries except for a few.
You can watch all the NBA games on NBA TV. You can watch it on a PC or download the app to your phone, games console, streaming device or smart TV. Not all devices are supported.