Given the recent bankruptcy announcement by Diamond Sports which holds Regional Sports Network (RSN) contracts with 16 NBA Franchises through its Bally Sports Networks and the announcement that major player Warner Bros: Discovery, is getting out of the RSN business entirely by March 2023, we thought it about time we took a deep dive into the big questions around NBA Broadcast rights and how NBA League Pass fits into this. Let’s start with a big one.
Are all NBA Games on League Pass? Yes, all NBA games are available to view live on League Pass. However due to national and local broadcast rights deals, some games may be subject to “Blackouts” in your area. These games should be readily available to watch live on TV and Cable platforms often via a separate subscription. Nationally broadcast games with blackout restrictions are available to view in NBA League Pass archives three hours after they have aired. Locally broadcast games are available three days after they have aired.
Your League Pass subscription will work wherever you are in the world. If you are in an area that is not subject to any local broadcast restrictions, then you will be able to watch any game live through the NBA League Pass platform. It is often possible to simply use a VPN like NordVPN to change your digital location and avoid any local game Blackouts.
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Does NBA League Pass show the Playoffs?
NBA League pass covers both the Regular Season and Playoffs. Every NBA Playoff Game will be available, just like the regular season games with the same local broadcasting blackout restrictions in place. NBA League Pass will usually reduce its price as the season moves on. Often a deal can be found around the All-Star Break for the second half of the season and the Playoffs. Sometimes a further price drop will occur as the Playoffs approach. There are two main options for league pass pricing; Standard and Premium.
Prices for the UK shown for the remainder of the 2022-23 season, from March 2023.
At Basketball Noise we prefer the Premium Option for 1 simple reason.
Is Premium NBA League Pass worth paying for?
Yes Premium NBA League Pass is worth paying for above the Standard option. The 1 simple reason is the extended highlights package. Within an hour of each game finishing you can watch a 35-45 min highlights package that takes out all the dead balls, timeouts and even chunks of teams walking the ball up the court slowly. Basically, you get all the action, without any of the waiting around. For someone like me that watches every Playoff game, it’s by far the slickest way to consume the content. This highlights package is only available on the Premium option of NBA League Pass.
What are NBA game Blackouts on League Pass?
- What does ‘Blackout Restrictions Apply’ mean?
When you sit down of an evening and fire up your NBA League Pass you may be hit with a “Blackout Restrictions Apply” message that prevents you from watching your chosen NBA Game through League Pass.
This is due to local or national broadcasting restrictions. In most cases a Regional Sports Network (RSN) will have acquired the rights to show that game via their own cable or subscription service. Part of that contract with the local NBA Franchise, will mean restricting the games from being broadcast on other platforms, such as NBA League Pass.
While many NBA fans of the local Franchise will often be quite happy using the local cable or TV network to watch the games, for many casual fans who don’t follow any specific franchise, this can be quite irritating! After all, ‘NBA League Pass’ isn’t cheap. You’ve paid for a service and now you find your enjoyment interrupted.
This only really affects users inside the US & Canada where local restrictions apply. A simple way of avoiding these blackouts is to use a VPN service. This can quickly and simply be used to set your device’s location outside of local Blackout areas for that match. Ping. Within seconds you’ll be able to fire up the game without Blackout restrictions and hopefully haven’t even missed the tip off. Fast & efficient.
What are Regional Sports Networks (RSN’s)?
Regional Sports Networks or RSNs is a broad term used for each locally based TV Network or streaming service that holds the rights to broadcast pro sports games.
This is a very common practice, particularly in the NBA. Further down the article we have a list of all the NBA Franchises and who they have RSN contracts with in the 2022-23 season.
With the rise of “cord cutting” and the growth of online streaming services, like NBA League pass. It seems to be less and less important for these RSN deals to exist. Currently they are a key source of income for Franchises, however this is already dwarfed by the National TV Broadcast contracts that NBA Franchises collectively benefit from. With the NBA’s recent investment in upgrading the League Pass platform, it seems sure that RSNs will start to be phased out with the hope the League Pass revenue will increase and subsidize any loss of earnings NBA Franchises may incur.
What areas have NBA RSN Deals?
All NBA Franchises and all areas where they consider their local fan base to be are covered by some kind of RSN deal. These don’t always line up with what a fan may expect, but instead with the more rigid broadcast area of the TV broadcaster holding the rights.
These areas are Blacked out on NBA League Pass using location data from a user’s device. This location can be easily masked and altered by using simple VPN software. With many more people being general fans of the NBA who have only a slightly increased interest in their local team, League Pass is often the preferred option. As opposed to spending that money on a local broadcast contract. It can be frustrating when a game you want to watch is blacked out of a service you have paid good money for.
Until the NBA and their hodge podge of broadcast rights contracts catch up with the streaming generation, there’s no harm in grabbing a VPN and setting it to a location where the NBA game you want to watch isn’t blacked out.
What Teams have RSN Contracts?
Below is a list of NBA Teams with Regional Sports Network Deals.
|NBA Franchise Regional Broadcasters|
|Atlanta Hawks||Bally Sports Southeast|
|Boston Celtics||NBC Sports Boston|
|Brooklyn Nets||YES Network|
|Charlotte Hornets||Bally Sports Southeast|
|Chicago Bulls||NBC Sports Chicago|
|Cleveland Cavaliers||Bally Sports Ohio|
|Dallas Mavericks||Bally Sports Southwest (most games)KTXA (during conflicts with Spurs, Stars and Rangers Broadcasts)|
|Detroit Pistons||Bally Sports Detroit|
|Golden State Warriors||NBC Sports Bay Area|
|Houston Rockets||AT&T SportsNet Southwest|
|Indiana Pacers||Bally Sports Indiana|
|LA Clippers||Bally Sports SoCal (most games)Bally Sports West (some games)KTLA|
|LA Lakers||Spectrum SportsNet|
|Memphis Grizzlies||Bally Sports Southeast|
|Miami Heat||Bally Sports Sun|
|Milwaukee Bucks||Bally Sports Wisconsin|
|Minnesota Timberwolves||Bally Sports NorthWUCW (select games during conflicts with Bally Sports North, branded as ‘Bally Sports Extra on The CW Twin Cities)|
|New Orleans Pelicans||Bally Sports New Orleans|
|New York Knicks||MSG Network|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||Bally Sports Oklahoma|
|Orlando Magic||Bally Sports Florida|
|Philadelphia 76ers||NBC Sports Philadelphia|
|Phoenix Suns||Bally Sports Arizona|
|Portland Trail Blazers||Root Sports Northwest|
|Sacramento Kings||NBC Sports California|
|San Antonio Spurs||Bally Sports Southwest (most games)KENS (10 games)KMYS (12 games)|
|Toronto Raptors||TSNTSN2 (41 games) & Sportsnet One (41 games)|
|Utah Jazz||AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain|
|Washington Wizards||NBC Sports Washington|
All NBA Franchises currently have some kind of Local Broadcasting deal in place with a Regional Sports Network. This has traditionally been an important source of independent income for NBA Franchises. As we move deeper into the cord cutting era, where more and more people choose to stream video content, rather than watch on traditional linear TV solutions like Cable or Satellite. These RSN contracts can become devalued and in many cases harm the franchises engagement numbers as Blackouts prevent League Pass subscribers accessing games for their local teams.
What are NBA Blackouts and how can I remove them?
- How do you get rid of blackout restrictions on NBA League Pass?
- How do I bypass Blackout Restrictions?
NBA League Pass Blackout Restrictions are regionally based. A VPN can simply and quickly alter your device’s digital location, avoiding any Blackout Restrictions.
Can a VPN get around League Pass Blackouts?
Yes, a VPN Like NordVPN can help you easily view the game you have paid to watch via NBALeague Pass, no matter where you are physically located in the world.
When can I watch a Blacked out game on NBA League Pass?
Due to national and local broadcast rights deals, some games may be subject to “Blackouts” in your area. These games should be readily available to watch live on TV and Cable platforms often via a separate subscription. Nationally broadcast games with blackout restrictions are available to view in NBA League Pass archives three hours after they have aired. Locally broadcast games are available three days after they have aired.
Will NBA Blackouts and RSN Contracts continue in the streaming era?
The NBA’s next broadcast rights tender is due to start from 2025. The NBA is expecting a massive $75 billion deal, an increase from its current US$24 billion arrangement signed in 2014.
This may well see a reduction in RSN deals with independent Franchises. While a reduction is likely, a complete abandonment of RSN’s may have to wait until the next tender cycle.
Are VPNs legal?
Yes. VPNs are legal as a way to protect your online presence and data from bad actors.