The Best Ways to Stream the NBA Playoffs


Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2019-2020 season resumed in late July at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. Currently, the Celtics are battling for the Eastern Conference title against the Miami Heat, while the Los Angeles Lakers face the Denver Nuggets for the Western Conference trophy. Even if you have ditched your cable subscription, you can still catch all the NBA postseason action with the right video streaming service. Our guide covers everything you need to know before making a decision.

NBA Conference Finals Broadcast Schedule

Below is the broadcast schedule for the remaining Conference Finals games per the NBA’s official site. Check with your live TV streaming service to make sure the channels listed for each game are available on your plan. We will update this list with the Finals schedule when the teams are decided.

Friday 9/25

8:30 p.m. EST

Miami Heat at Boston Celtics (ESPN)

Saturday 9/26

9:00 p.m. EST

Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Lakers (TNT)

Sunday 9/27

7:30 p.m. EST

Boston Celtics at Miami Heat (ESPN)

Monday 9/28

TBD – if necessary

Los Angeles Lakers at Denver Nuggets

Wednesday 9/30

TBD – if necessary

Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Lakers

Cable and Over-the-Air Options

One of the easiest ways to make sure you can watch all of the NBA playoff games is to sign up for a cable plan. A cable plan is typically more expensive than live streaming alternatives, but it’s ideal for people looking to get the widest possible variety of cable TV networks for one price. If you just want to watch NBA postseason games, you will be overpaying to just get the three networks you need (ABC, ESPN, and TNT). Given how late it is in the playoff, you likely only have to subscribe to a single month of a live TV streaming service to watch all the remaining NBA games.

Other choices are available directly from the NBA. The NBA’s site offers three main subscription options: NBA TV ($19.99 per year), NBA League Pass ($28.99 per year), and NBA League Pass Premium ($39.99 per year). The Live TV option gives you access to NBA coverage and live regular-season games airing on NBA TV, albeit with restrictive blackout rules. The NBA League Pass plan allows you to watch hundreds of games from around the league, while the NBA League Pass Premium tier gives you the same perks without commercials. Although you can’t watch the remaining NBA games live with either NBA League Pass plan, you can watch replays of those games either three or 72 hours after they originally air. Watching replays of games is not ideal, but it’s still a cheaper option than even a month of most live TV streaming services.

You can also choose the Single Game option ($5.99) or you can get access to home and away radio streams for regular season games with the NBA League Pass Audio option for just $9.99. Note that you can’t purchase a Single Game stream for postseason games, but Audio Pass subscribers can listen to every game without blackouts.

All remaining playoff basketball games this season will air on either ESPN or TNT, but neither are available to watch with an antenna over the air. All NBA Finals games will broadcast on ABC, however, a network that is available via antenna.

Other Ways to Stream NBA Playoffs Games

There are many ways to watch the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Finals, and some don’t require a television at all. For example, you can watch NBA coverage from most mobile platforms and media streaming devices with a subscription to the services we mention below.

If you have a cable subscription, you can watch the games from any device using the Watch TNT and Watch ESPN apps after you authenticate via your TV provider. You can also watch these matchups online at NBA.com by signing in with your cable TV provider to NBA TV.

If you are hoping to watch sports other than the NBA this fall, check out our guide on how to watch every sport without cable. Our roundup of best sports streaming services includes the top options for sports fans, in general.

Hulu + Live TV

$54.99 per month

Hulu + Live TV has all of the channels you need to watch NBA postseason games, including ABC, ESPN, and TNT. Other sports channels in Hulu’s lineup include BTN and the Golf Channel. The optional Español add-on ($4.99/month) gets you international sports coverage via ESPN Deportes.

Hulu + Live TV Web Interface

Hulu’s service comes with 50 hours of DVR storage, but the Enhanced Cloud DVR add-on increases this limit to 200 hours. The Unlimited Screens Add-on is also useful; this allows you to stream on an unlimited number of devices on your home network and up to three mobile devices away from it. The pair costs $14.98 per month or you can purchase them separately for $9.99 per month. Hulu’s on-demand content is available in 1080p (a few originals support 4K streaming) and the service also supports 1080p/60fps live streaming on select platforms.

YouTube TV

$64.99 per month

YouTube TV offers a robust array of TV networks for the NBA fan, including channels you need to watch the Conference Finals (TNT and ESPN) and NBA Finals (ABC). It also includes NBA TV, adding another level of coverage for die-hard NBA fans. You can add on NBA League Pass for $39.99 per month, too, as part of your subscription.

For other national sports, YouTube TV includes networks such as the Golf Channel, MLB Network, NFL Network, Tennis Channel, and Olympic Channel. FOX Soccer Plus and NFL RedZone are available in the $15-per-month Sports Plus Add-On. The service also includes most popular news and entertainment channels.

You get unlimited cloud DVR storage (with recordings available for up to nine months), up to three simultaneous device streams, 1080p live streams on select platforms, and support for six user accounts with your YouTube TV subscription. The service is available on the web or Android, iOS, Apple TV, and other streaming devices.

FuboTV

$59.99 per month

FuboTV is another good option for NBA Finals watchers; it includes ESPN and NBA TV, as well as ABC. FuboTV does not include TNT, however, so subscribers may miss some of the Conference Finals games.

Otherwise, FuboTV has one of the best sports packages available. Its lineup includes the CBS Sports Network, FS1, Golf Channel, and NFL Network. FuboTV also boasts an impressive international sports lineup with channels such as beIN Sports, GOL TV, and TUDN.

Fubo TV Live Guide

The service has two interesting playback features: Lookback, which allows you to watch some sports events up to 72 hours after they aired, and Startover, which lets you start some live programs over from the beginning. Your FuboTV subscription includes up to 30 hours of DVR content, which you can keep forever. It offers two Cloud DVR add-ons that increase the limit to 250 ($9.99 per month) or 1,000 hours ($16.99 per month). FuboTV also includes several add-ons to expand simultaneous stream limits from two devices (the default) up to five devices on your home network.

You can access fuboTV via the web or with a dedicated app for Android, iOS, Apple TV, Fire TV, Chromecast, or Roku devices. Most of FuboTV’s live streams are limited to 720p/60fps, though it does air some programming in 4K. On-demand content is available in 1080p, though some titles are available in 4K.

Sling TV

$30 per month

To watch the Conference Finals, you need to sign up for the Sling Orange plan ($30 per month) which includes ESPN and TNT. Sling TV does not include any ABC affiliates, but you may still be able to watch the NBA Finals because Sling TV often offers promotions that bundle various streaming hardware with a subscription. However, the extra hardware can be costly and tricky to set up, as Sling TV requires an indoor antenna, a TV tuner, and a compatible media streaming device to integrate over-the-air channels into its interface. 

The Sports Extra add-on ($10 per month) gets you beIN Sports, ESPN U, Golf Channel, MLB Network, NBA TV, and NHL Network. Sling TV includes 10 hours of DVR storage with a subscription, but you can upgrade that storage to 50 hours for an extra $5 per month. Sling TV is available on mobile phones, streaming devices, Xbox consoles (but not PlayStation systems), and the web.

AT&T TV Now

$55 per month

NBA fans can get away with a subscription to AT&T TV Now‘s cheapest package, the $55-per-month Plus plan. It includes all of the channels you need to watch every moment of the NBA Playoffs and Finals, including ABC, ESPN, and TNT. The Plus service also includes sports channels like FS1, NBC Sports Network, and ESPN2.

AT&T TV Now Web Interface

AT&T TV Now’s Lookback and Rewind features allow sports fans to watch previously aired content (up to 72 hours in the past) and restart live streams from the beginning of the broadcast for certain channels, respectively. The service keeps recordings for up to 30 days and offers just 20 hours of DVR storage. AT&T TV Now is available on streaming devices, mobile platforms (via the AT&T TV app), and the web.

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