How To Watch Basketball Without Cable: Stream NBA and College Basketball

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Are you looking to watch basketball by streaming the NBA or college hoops instead of paying for cable each month?

Good news! It’s entirely possible to accomplish this without paying the cable or satellite company a dime.

In this article, I’ll walk you through all the ways that you can cut the cord and remain as big a basketball fan as ever.



NBA: National vs. Regional Broadcasts

If you’re a NBA fan, you probably know there are a couple of different ways to watch the league’s games.

The NBA airs games on channels such as ESPN, ABC, TNT and NBA TV that are considered “national broadcasts.” If you want to watch these games without cable or satellite, you’ll need a live TV streaming service that offers these channels as a part of the subscription. YouTube TV offers all four for $64.99.

If your favorite team isn’t playing in a game that airs nationwide, you’re likely going to find it on a regional sports network (RSN). These channels can be a little trickier to find on live TV streaming services, but I’ll walk you through them later in the article.


NBA League Pass: Stream Most Out-of-Market Regular Season Games

If you don’t live in the local market for your favorite NBA team, your best path to streaming the league without cable is probably the NBA League Pass.

This service allows you to stream non-nationally televised and out-of-market NBA games for either a monthly or season-long subscription fee. The season-long subscription price is $199.

Before you sign up for the service, NBA League Pass will have you enter your ZIP code into its blackout evaluator to show you all the games that you won’t be eligible to stream.

Here’s a sample of that process:

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NBA League Pass blackout notice

As noted in the text from that sample, someone living in my ZIP code would be prohibited from streaming the Memphis Grizzles, Atlanta Hawks or national broadcasts on ESPN, ABC, TNT and NBA TV.

That does leave the telecasts of 28 out-of-market teams for me to stream freely. So if I were a New York Knicks fan living where I live, I could stream almost their entire season with a NBA League Pass subscription.

It’s worth noting that you will eventually get access to blacked-out games. You can watch the on-demand replay of your local team three days after the original broadcast airs.


How To Watch Your Local NBA Team Without Cable

You will need access to the regional sports network that airs your favorite team in order to stream their games without paying for cable or satellite.

The availability of these channels on live TV streaming services varies from market to market. Unfortunately, you may find yourself limited to just one or two streaming services that carry the channel for your local team.

I have compiled a handy guide to help understand which RSN you’ll need in order to watch basketball games for your local team. I’ve also included streaming services that offer those channels (information current as of the date of this writing).

NBA TeamRegional Sports NetworkLive TV Streaming Options
Atlanta HawksBally Sports SouthAT&T TV
Boston CelticsNBC Sports BostonAT&T TV, fuboTV, Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV
Brooklyn NetsYES NetworkAT&T TV
Charlotte HornetsBally Sports SoutheastAT&T TV
Chicago BullsNBC Sports ChicagoAT&T TV, fuboTV, Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV
Cleveland CavaliersBally Sports OhioAT&T TV
Dallas MavericksBally Sports SouthwestAT&T TV
Denver NuggetsAltitude SportsAT&T TV
Detroit PistonsBally Sports DetroitAT&T TV
Golden State WarriorsNBC Sports Bay AreaAT&T TV, fuboTV, Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV
Houston RocketsAT&T SportsNet SouthwestAT&T TV, fuboTV
Indiana PacersBally Sports IndianaAT&T TV
Los Angeles ClippersBally Sports WestAT&T TV
Los Angeles LakersSpectrum SportsNetAT&T TV
Memphis GrizzliesBally Sports SoutheastAT&T TV
Miami HeatBally Sports SunAT&T TV
Milwaukee BucksBally Sports WisconsinAT&T TV
Minnesota TimberwolvesBally Sports NorthAT&T TV
New Orleans PelicansBally Sports New OrleansAT&T TV
New York KnicksMSGAT&T TV, fuboTV
Oklahoma City ThunderBally Sports OklahomaAT&T TV
Orlando MagicBally Sports FloridaAT&T TV
Philadelphia 76ersNBC Sports PhiladelphiafuboTV, Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV
Phoenix SunsBally Sports ArizonaAT&T TV
Portland Trail BlazersNBC Sports NorthwestfuboTV, Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV
Sacramento KingsNBC Sports CaliforniaAT&T TV, fuboTV, Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV
San Antonio SpursBally Sports SouthwestAT&T TV
Toronto RaptorsTSN-Canadian TV-
Utah JazzAT&T SportsNet Rocky MountainAT&T TV
Washington WizardsNBC Sports WashingtonAT&T TV, fuboTV, Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV

As you can see on the chart above, many cord cutters are limited to just one or two streaming services that offer their team’s regional sports network (namely AT&T Live).

Most of these regional sports networks have apps and websites you can use to stream your local teams. However, access to the live streams of these channels usually requires login credentials from an approved cable or live TV streaming service.


College Basketball: Watch the NCAA Tournament and Regular Season

If you’re a casual college basketball fan, there are two easy-to-define viewing periods for this sport.

There’s the regular season, which typically consists of approximately 30 games per team, played in both conference and non-conference settings. These games usually air on regional or league-sponsored television with the very best of them getting national coverage on channels like CBS or ESPN.

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Then there’s the NCAA Tournament, well known as “March Madness.” This is the 68-team tournament that sparks interest in bracket pools and watch parties across the nation. These games are broadcast as national telecasts on a variety of platforms.

Let’s walk through how to stream both portions of the college basketball season without cable.

How To Stream the NCAA Tournament

The men’s NCAA basketball tournament is one of the most anticipated sporting events of the year. It takes place over a three-week period from mid-March into early April.

Watching all of the action unfold as a streamer has never been easier. That’s because the NCAA has a March Madness Live app that lets you stream the games on your favorite device. You can also access live streams directly from the NCAA’s website. The NCAA typically allows several hours of free viewing, but eventually you may be asked to pay for access.

If you want a more traditional NCAA tournament viewing experience, it can be done on live TV streaming services.

All games of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament can be watched on CBS, TNT, TBS or TruTV. You can view all four of these channels with a YouTube TV subscription. You can compare your streaming options by using our live streaming channel guide.

How To Stream the College Basketball Regular Season

If you’re interested in the entire college basketball season, you’ll be happy to know that the streaming options are plentiful.

These games can be found in a variety of places, including free local channels, national and regional sports channels and even through some non-traditional streaming options.

Local Channels: ABC, CBS and FOX
National Sports Channels: ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, FS1, FS2, CBS Sports Network and NBC Sports Network
Conference-Specific Channels:SEC Network, ACC Network, Big Ten Network and PAC-12 Network
Regional Sports Networks:Many of the networks listed above with the NBA teams also offer college basketball.

There are streaming-only platforms that also carry regular-season college basketball games. You can find them on ESPN3 and the ESPN+ subscription service.

The Big Ten Network and SEC Network also have streaming-only options (BTN+ and SECN+) that come with a live TV streaming subscription.

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Free services including Facebook Live, YouTube, Pluto TV and Stadium also have agreements to stream college basketball games on their platforms.

If you have a favorite team that you’re trying to stream, you may want to visit the official school website to see where to find those games. You can build a plan for streaming from the channels that appear most often to ensure you see most of the action.


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