How to Watch NBA Online in 2021: Watch Basketball From Anywhere

Do you want to learn how to watch NBA games online? Whether you’re in or outside of the U.S., keep reading to find the best NBA streaming services.

Samson Max
By Samson Max (Writer)
— Last Updated: 2021-03-18T10:33:18+00:00

The NBA is the undisputed number-one basketball league in the world. Whenever a game is live, thousands of fans flock to the arena to cheer on their favorite team. On the other hand, hoop junkies outside the U.S. turn to the web to watch NBA games online.

Watching NBA online isn’t only for avid fans outside the U.S. If you’re a U.S.-based b-ball superfan, streaming works great when you travel abroad and don’t want to miss the NBA action. It’s also the safest bet in the current Covid-19 situation — where fans aren’t allowed in the stadiums.

Key Takeaways:

  • There are many ways to watch live NBA matches in the U.S. including AT&T TV, YouTube TV, Sling TV and Hulu, to name a few. 
  • A good VPN like ExpressVPN can help you circumvent geoblocking to access NBA content on U.S.-only streaming sites, for U.S.-based superfans who want to bypass local and regional NBA League Pass blackouts. 
  • A solid VPN can also protect you if you decide to take less… legal methods to watch NBA games.

In this article, we’ll show you all the best options to watch NBA online. We’ll discuss the legal ways, including some interesting streaming services such as Roku. We’ll also touch on some less conventional ways to watch NBA games, from free streaming sites to Kodi to torrenting. For those options, we suggest investing in a respectable VPN, such as ExpressVPN, NordVPN or Surfshark.

  • If you’re in the U.S., services like AT&T TV, YouTube TV, Roku and Sling TV should do the trick. If you’re outside the U.S., the international NBA League Pass is a nice option. You can also use a VPN to bypass geoblocks and access U.S.-only streaming services.

  • You can watch NBA for free without cable through popular Kodi add-ons for sports. Other streaming sites, such as VIPBox and nba-stream.com, allow you to watch NBA online for free. However, keep in mind that these methods are illegal and pose a serious online security threat.

  • Yes, with the NBA League Pass you can watch old games from 2012 to the present.

How to Watch NBA Games Online in the U.S.

What you should know is that all NBA broadcast rights are split across four cable networks, listed below in order from most to fewest games:

  1. NBA TV
  2. ESPN
  3. TNT
  4. ABC

If you want to stream all NBA games, you should find a service that offers access to the four networks. Alternatively, you could get the NBA League Pass subscription, but be ready to miss out on some games if you’re in a blackout region.

U.S. Streaming Services

We tried many streaming services in the U.S. and found the following options to be the best.

AT&T TV

at&t tv pricing
The AT&T TV Choice package offers access to popular NBA channels.

The AT&T TV Choice package is a basketball favorite. For $64.99 per month, it unlocks all the major national NBA channels: NBA TV, ABC, ESPN and TNT.

What we like most about AT&T TV is its support for all platforms, including Android and iOS devices, Apple TV, Chromecast, Samsung Smart TVs, Amazon Fire TV and Roku. Plus, it allows you to run simultaneous streams on up to three devices.

YouTube TV

Like AT&T TV, YouTube TV gives you access to ESPN, NBA TV and TNT. ABC isn’t available in all markets in the U.S. However, this shouldn’t be too much of a worry because ABC offers the fewest games.

In terms of price, the YouTube TV plan goes for $64.99 per month. The service permits three simultaneous streams without cable and six accounts per household, making it a great choice for bigger families.

Others: Sling TV and Direct TV

Sling TV is the best alternative to AT&T TV and YouTube TV because it’s cheap. Starting from $25 per month, you get access to live streams on ESPN, TNT and NBA TV (comes as an add-on). ABC is available in limited markets, which again shouldn’t be a cause for concern.

DirecTV is also a nice alternative, as it has ESPN, TNT, NBA TV (only on some plans) and ABC (in most markets). Even better, at $40 per month, it’s cheaper than both YouTube TV and AT&T TV. 

Watch NBA Games Online With Roku

roku channel store
Roku has all popular NBA streaming apps.

We’ve reserved a place for Roku on our list because it has a lot of options to watch broadcast games online. If you have questions about Roku, check out our guides on what Roku is and how it works, Roku’s history and Roku pricing.

Roku Channel Store has more than 500 apps, including top sports channels such as NBA TV, TNT, ABC and ESPN. With Roku TV, you can also live stream broadcast games without cable through NBA League Pass, Sling TV, FuboTV, Hulu Live TV and YouTube TV.

To sweeten the deal, Roku offers some free NBA streaming options, such as the NBA Top. NBA Top doesn’t offer access to full and live games, but it does give you a curated list of NBA highlights and best-moments videos.

What About the NBA League Pass?

The NBA League Pass is an exciting streaming service for basketball superfans in the U.S. You can watch regular-season games, all-star weekend and NBA finals as they happen or at any time during the season. There are flexible pricing plans: League Pass, Team Pass, Three-Game Pass and Day Pass.

Unfortunately, the NBA League Pass comes with local and regional blackouts. The blackout means that if you’re in a country or city where cable TV providers own the broadcasting rights, you can’t watch live broadcasts. Below, we’ll show you how to unlock the NBA blackouts.

Watch NBA Online Around the Globe With a VPN 

expressvpn pricing

Now, the vast majority of channels showing NBA games online are available in the U.S. This means that if you’re outside the U.S. — say in Australia, Europe, Asia or another country around the globe — you can’t stream NBA games on these services.

In this case, you have two workarounds. One, you can subscribe to the NBA League Pass and binge-watch regular-season games without cable. Second, you can use a virtual private network (VPN) to unlock the cheaper U.S.-only services. Here are our top VPN suggestions.

  • ExpressVPN — The best VPN for Watching NBA games, fast, reliable, secure — but expensive
  • NordVPN — An excellent VPN though some servers can be slower
  • Surfshark — A very affordable and solid VPN choice
  • Windscribe — Offers a good free plan and a unique build-a-plan option

Unlocking NBA League Pass Blackouts With a VPN

A VPN also comes in handy if you are in an NBA League Pass blackout region in the U.S. or Canada. With a powerful and blazing-fast app, you can circumvent regional blackout restrictions and follow all games live.

ExpressVPN: The Best VPN to Watch NBA Games Online

expressvpn homepage

We recommend ExpressVPN as the best VPN for streaming because it delivers exceptional speed, security and unlimited bandwidth, allowing you to watch NBA games online without buffering or security risks. Read our ExpressVPN review to understand the strengths of this VPN service, or try it out with its 30-day money-back guarantee.

To get around an NBA League Pass blackout region, all you have to do is connect to a specific server outside the blackout region. This way, you’ll change your IP address so you can watch live games that are only available to basketball fans outside the blackout zone. We recommend using ExpressVPN because, unlike other VPN services, it allows you to drill down and pick a specific server in the U.S.

Other VPNs for Watching NBA Games

If you still want to shop around for a VPN, our other top recommendation is NordVPN, and you can read about it in our NordVPN review. However, if you’re looking for a really affordable option, we suggest Surfshark (read our Surfshark review) or the free VPN Windscribe, which also offers a cheap build-a-plan that can be tailored specifically for your needs (read our Windscribe review).

How to Watch NBA Games Online for Free

Now, with the above-board ways accounted for, let’s look at some of the dodgier options to watch NBA without spending a dime. Keep in mind, streaming NBA for free can land you in pirate-infested hot water and comes with its fair share of legal risks, and it’s always advisable to use one of the best VPNs for the sake of your security.

NBA Streaming Sites: Watch NBA Games Without Cable

It’s hard to find free streaming sites that are reliable and risk free. The best free stream sites we found were VIPBox and nba-stream.com. However, while these sites are somewhat reliable, your security and privacy when using them isn’t a guarantee and it’s highly likely that you’ll download malware unknowingly.

For this reason, we recommend staying away from illegal streaming sites. If worse comes to worst, and you can’t pay for a subscription, we recommend trying out free trial plans on services such as Hulu, NBA League Pass and FuboTV.

Watch the NBA Online With Kodi

kodi sports add-ons
Kodi has multiple sports add-ons.

We’re big fans of Kodi because of its flexibility and versatility, as well as its ability to stream NBA live. Besides the paid Kodi add-ons for sports, the service neatly bundles some reliable free sports add-ons. Read our Kodi guide to understand the strengths of the service.

The free Kodi add-ons that stand out for NBA fans include SportsDevil, which has streams from TNT and ESPN. Others include Bennu, cCloud TV, NBA Full Games (through Fusion), NBA on Demand (through the Covenant repo) and UK Turk Playlist.

Torrenting NBA Games 

Torrenting NBA games sits at the bottom of the list of options at your disposal. NBA torrents are free, but hard to come by, which is why we created a list of the best alternative torrent sites.

Generally, torrenting can be hit or miss, since there’s always a chance the file you’re downloading has been infected by malware or ransomware. Not to mention that it’s illegal to download copyrighted content. To keep your data and IP address away from prying eyes (and the law) when torrenting, be sure to implement one of the best VPN for torrenting, like NordVPN or ExpressVPN.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you’ll find a way to watch NBA online without cable. If you want reliability, security, and performance, go for the legal methods. 

Stay away from the dodgy stream sites because even though they are free, they carry a serious security threat. Using illegal stream sites without protecting yourself with a reliable VPN like ExpressVPN can also put you on a collision course with the law enforcement authorities.

Have we left out your favorite NBA streaming method? Let’s know about it in the comments below. Thank you for reading, and have fun watching NBA online.