NBA League Pass is a gift to basketball fans worldwide.
With multiple subscription options, fans are provided with access to broadcast or stream live NBA games for all teams around the league, with some restrictions. These restrictions exist within the regional markets of the 28 cities that host the NBA’s 30 franchises, as regional sports networks (RSNs) often carry exclusive rights to broadcast games, which cannot be viewed on NBA League Pass or NBA TV within that market.
With the exception of nationally-televised games, NBA blackout rules often limit the ways in which fans can watch teams within their home market.
How do these blackouts work? Here’s what to know about the NBA’s blackout restrictions entering the 2021-22 season.
NBA blackout policy
Per NBA.com, NBA League Pass’ “blackout restrictions include your local NBA team(s) and all nationally televised games. Blacked-out games will be available for viewing after the game has concluded.”
To break this down further, said blackouts are location-specific. Fans located in a specific team’s region are not able to view that team’s games live on NBA League Pass or on NBA TV, when applicable.
In these circumstances, local fans’ only option to watch games live are on a local broadcaster through cable, satellite or streaming television service.
How is NBA blackout location determined?
With respect to blackout restrictions, location is determined by your IP address and, when applicable, your device’s location services.
According to NBA.com, “within the US and Canada, a zip code is used to determine what teams are covered by your local broadcaster.” Whenever your location changes, so too does your blackout restrictions for games that are live and locally televised.
How can you watch blacked out games?
There are a few options to watch blacked out games on NBA League Pass.
For games that are broadcast locally, games can be viewed on an RSN in your area through cable, satellite or a streaming service. Nationally televised games can be viewed on TNT, ESPN or ABC through cable, satellite or streaming television subscription.
On NBA League Pass, blacked out nationally broadcast games are available to view in the archives three hours after airing. In the US, blacked out games that are televised locally can be viewed three days after airing.
What if your television provider does not include the RSN that airs local NBA telecasts?
If you have a subscription to a cable, satellite or streaming television service like YouTube TV, Sling, Hulu Live TV or FuboTV, and the RSN that airs NBA games is not a part of the subscription, the above blackout rules still apply.
Because blackout restrictions are based on zip code, your location will prevent you from watching your local team’s games live on NBA League Pass and NBA TV. This applies for both home and away games.
Ahead of the 2020-21 NBA season, Commissioner Adam Silver addressed this issue, saying “we’re very focused on reshaping the model in terms of the way our games are distributed now so that even if games are on cable or satellite in a local market, that fans who don’t choose to subscribe to a larger bundle aren’t disenfranchised from the league.
“And the numbers are particularly dramatic for our younger fans, who generally either are not subscribing to cable or satellite, or to the extent they are, are largely using it to watch other platforms, using it as a broadband provider.”