The evolution of the game of basketball, coupled with advancements in technology and increasing globalization, has led the NBA to become a global league. Interest in the league, specifically from international audiences, is as high as ever: one article estimates that the NBA has 650 million fans globally, and the NBA is the most popular professional sports league in terms of social media alone. The growing global interest in the league has paid off dividends for the NBA not only financially and socially, but in terms of talent also: the 2022/23 season had 120 international players on NBA rosters on opening night, a new record for the NBA. Furthermore, not only are international players making the cut, but they are dominating the league: Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Luka Doncic are just a few of the international superstars in the NBA today, and they are driving even more interest in foreign markets. As such, the NBA has been making major strides in appeasing its global audiences, including when it comes to viewership.
How many games are on NBA League Pass? All NBA games are available live on League Pass in countries where the service is supported, except for the US and Canada. In the US and Canada, due to blackout restrictions, League Pass subscribers can only watch 40 out-of-market games every week (blacked out games become available on the app a few hours after airing). League Pass is supported in all countries according to the NBA except for: Belarus, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iran, Kosovo, North Korea, Russia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria.
How much does an NBA League Pass cost?
The cost of a NBA League Pass depends on the country as well as the type of plan being purchased. There are two main types of plans: the standard League Pass and League Pass Premium. An NBA League Pass offers live and on-demand games, an archive full of classic games, and language and alternate camera feed options, among other features (note: not all features are available in all markets).
The NBA League Pass Premium has all of the features above along with commercial-free viewing and the ability to stream on 2 devices simultaneously (compared to 1 device with the standard League Pass). Perhaps the best feature of the NBA League Pass Premium is the condensed games. More than just the offensive highlights, these videos are live soon after the game, last around 40 mins and feature every single bit of action. By far the best way to watch the NBA in a hurry!
The NBA League Pass can be purchased separately or can be accessed through services that offer NBA League Pass, such as YouTube TV. The table below highlights the monthly and yearly prices for both the League Pass and the League Pass Premium for a few countries:
|Country||League Pass||$USD Conversion||League Pass Premium||$USD Conversion|
|United States of America||$14.99/month $99.99/year||N/A||$19.99/month $129.99/year||N/A|
|United Kingdom||14.99 GBP/month GBP/99.99/year||~$18.5/monthly ~$123.5/year||21.99 GBP/monthly GBP/129.99/year||~$27/month ~$160/year|
|France||17,99 EUR/month 119,99 EUR/year||~$19.5/monthly ~$130/yearly||23,99 EUR/monthly 149,99 EUR/yearly||~$26/month ~$163/year|
|Philippines||499 PHP/month 2,400 PHP/year||~$9/monthly|
|650 PHP/monthly 3,900 PHP/yearly||~$12/month ~$71/year|
|United Arab Emirates||58.99 AED/month|
|~$16/month ~$68/year||79.99 AED/month|
Why are all NBA games not aired on League Pass in the US and Canada?
The world of exclusive TV rights is quite fractured, but it generates a ton of money for the NBA. Basically, NBA games are televised by broadcasters on either the national level, the regional level, or the local level. These broadcasters purchase the rights from the NBA to be the only providers (exclusive) who can air these games on TV; for example, TNT buys the rights to air certain NBA games nationally, while for example the local Atlanta network buys the rights to air certain Atlanta Hawks games.
Because broadcasters buy exclusive rights, these games are not allowed to be aired in other markets, and because certain games are covered in specific regions, that means people across the country in “out-of-market” areas are “blacked out” from viewing the games. For example, if an Atlanta Hawks game is being aired by a local Atlanta network that covers the Atlanta area only, someone in Texas will be considered out-of-market and will therefore be unable to watch the Hawks game due to blackout restrictions.
The NBA League Pass serves as a bit of a solution for out-of-market viewers to overcome blackout restrictions. What happens is that League Pass subscribers in the US and Canada can watch up to 40 out-of-market games every week, so in the previous example, the Texas viewers can tune into the out-of-market Atlanta Hawks game via League Pass.
However, blackout restrictions still apply, but this time for in-market games. The League Pass is essentially a service for most out-of-market NBA games, but if a broadcaster has rights to air a game that covers the region the subscriber is in, League Pass will be blacked out from showing that game. So a viewer in Texas may not be able to use League Pass to watch games that a regional broadcaster is airing, such as a Dallas Mavericks game or a Houston Rockets game. The caveat is that black-out game won’t be able to be viewed live on League Pass; it becomes available on the app after it has finished airing.
The League Pass is an excellent option for global fans to tune in to the NBA every night (or every day, depending on the various time zones NBA fans are located in), but it is also a great option for out-of-market fans to follow their favorite team. Not every fan of a franchise is located in the same region as the franchise, and because of blackout restrictions, those fans were being frozen out of watching games or were maybe even using illegitimate ways to catch those games. The League Pass option in the US and Canada is an official access for these fans to follow along from wherever they are in the country. The NBA understands that by providing a seamless and interactive streaming service, it can keep fans happy and also provide an easy and attractive point of entry for potential new fans in just about every corner of the globe.