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What’s the difference between NBA TV and League Pass?

With the rise of the “cord cutters” and traditional broadcast TV taking a back seat to streaming, it’s not a surprise that many people find themselves confused over which “Pay For” television packages they actually need. This confusion is often high around the NBA’s League Pass, how is it different from NBA TV? What do you actually need in order to get the most enjoyment out of your NBA season? The answer to that will vary for most people. Below we try to cut through the noise and get you some answers.

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What’s the difference between NBA TV and League Pass?

The Difference between NBA TV and League Pass is significant. NBA TV is in essence just a streaming channel, whereas NBA League Pass is a full streaming service. NBA TV is a live stream channel accessible through NBA League Pass, including expert analysis, documentaries and more. It features selected NBA games each week. NBA League Pass allows you access to Live Streams and extended highlights of ALL NBA games in addition to many other features, depending on what package you pay for.

Still confused? That doesn’t surprise me. Below we dive into each aspect of the answer above in greater detail.

What is NBA TV?

NBA TV is a pay television channel owned by the National Basketball Association (NBA) and managed by Turner Sports. NBA TV features exhibition, regular season and playoff game broadcasts from the NBA and associated professional competitions, such as the G-League. In addition it hosts NBA-related content including analysis programs, one off events and documentaries. Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, the channel also serves as the national broadcaster of the NBA G League and WNBA games. NBA TV launched on March 17, 1999. NBA TV will show around 100 NBA games a season.

What is NBA League Pass?

NBA League Pass is a paid subscription service that allows members to view (almost) all NBA Games, highlights and a whole host of other content, including access to NBA TV. NBA League pass is owned by the NBA and also managed by Turner.  It was launched in 1995 and saw Michael Jordan win the title and Finals MVP in its first 3 years. Depending how much you want to watch, or pay, there is a tiered subscription system with a host of different options so you can find the package that works for you. For those living in the United States, some games may be “blacked out” if the local cable company has the broadcasting rights.

How can I get NBA TV?

NBA TV can be accessed as an add on to most cable packages in North America. It can also be accessed via NBA League pass, either as part of a League Pass package, or simply by paying for NBA TV on it’s own (North America only). Other streaming packages also carry NBA TV, such as, Sling TV, YouTube TV, Fubo TV and Direct TV Stream. If you have the internet and a credit card, you can get NBA TV.

How can I get NBA League Pass?

The best and simplest way to get NBA League pass is to purchase it through the official NBA League Pass website. There is usually a free trial running to give you a taste and plenty of subscription options so you can choose the package that works for you.

What NBA League Pass package do I need?

There are 4 main options available with NBA League Pass. League Pass, League Pass Premium, Team Pass and 3-Game Choice. Below we will go through the benefits of each one, starting with the total package – League Pass Premium.

NBA League Pass Premium

This is the top NBA League Pass  package and comes with the below features:

  • Get access to every live and on-demand game for all teams, plus NBA studio shows.
  • Every live HD game

Plus

  • Listen to select games in alternate languages
  • NBA TV studio shows including Game Time and Basketball Stories
  • Classic and archived games available on-demand
  • Home and Away team broadcast feeds
  • Live audio for every game of the season
  • Access to full length and 10-min condensed replays of every game
  • Download games for offline viewing
  • Stream on 2 devices at the same time

NBA League Pass

This is the most popular choice, due to its lower cost and breadth of content. The two BIG things you won’t get here that you do with the NBA League Pass Premium package are the ability to stream on 2 devices at the same time and access to the full length condensed replays of every game. If you plan to share your account with a family member then you should seriously consider paying the extra for Premium. Fore me personally, the full game condensed replays are why I pay for Premium. They allow you to hit play and enjoy all the action, without any of the delay. Consume every play that matters from any match in under an hour. If the 10 minute highlight packages are enough for you, or you watch every game in full anyway. You can save yourself some money with this standard league pass option.

NBA Team Pass

  • Watch your favorite team’s games live plus NBA TV studio shows.

PLUS

  • Every live HD games for the team of your choice
  • Listen to select games in alternate languages
  • NBA TV studio shows including Game Time and Basketball Stories
  • Archived games for the team of your choice available on-demand
  • Home and Away team broadcast feeds
  • Live audio for the team of your choice
  • Access to 10-min condensed replays of every game
  • Download games for offline viewing

This package option mirrors the standard option above, with the important note that it is specifically for ONE TEAM. Perfect for die hard fans of a particular franchise. Be careful of local game Blackouts. You don’t want to pay for your local team only to find out that all the games are blacked out and you have to pay again to watch them on cable anyway! At almost half the price, it’s a great option if you only wanted to follow one team anyway. It’s important to note that with this package you will not get access to any NBA TV Live games.

NBA 3-Game Choice

  • Choose any three live games to stream each month.

PLUS

  • Live HD games
  • Listen to select games in alternate languages
  • Home and Away team broadcast feeds
  • NBA TV studio shows including Game Time and Basketball Stories
  • Access to 10-min condensed replays of every game
  • Download games for offline viewing

This is a great package for those with busy schedules. If you only get time to sit down a few times a month and watch a full game, this package could be perfect for you. Game credits roll over as well, so if you don’t use any for a month you can double up next month! It’s important to note that with this package you will not get access to any NBA TV Live games.

NBA TV – only

Residents of North-America can sign up to NBA TV without a full League Pass package. This costs around $6.99 a month or $59.99 a year and can be accessed in many different ways (covered above) including through NBA League Pass (without a full subscription).

NBA League Pass – Monthly Subscription Options (January 2022)

What are NBA League Pass Black Outs?

NBA League Pass blackouts apply to games where your local cable provider owns the rights to broadcast that game. If you are lucky enough to live in an NBA city you may be better off paying for a cable package to follow your local NBA team. These games will not be available to anyone who’s IP address falls in a set catchment area of the local game blackout.

What games are on NBA TV?

Around 100 NBA Games will be shown on NBA TV each year. As you would expect most of the premier match ups that are guaranteed to draw the most attention are picked up by the national broadcasts. 

Is the NBA Playoffs on NBA TV?

Yes. Usually during the first 2 rounds of the NBA Playoffs a series from each conference will be shown on NBA TV. This is usually the one projected to draw the least attention and therefore hold the least value to National Broadcasters like ESPN.

Is the NBA Playoffs on League Pass?

Yes. All Playoff games are available through NBA League pass, content will be based on your subscription package, broken down above. Often the NBA League Pass will go on Promo for the Playoffs, meaning if you don’t have time to follow the regular season, you can save some money by signing up just in time for the Postseason.

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