How to Watch the NBA Live Stream (2019)

Paid and free options give you the all the hoops action you want

LeBron James dunks in an NBA game.

Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images

Streaming NBA games is easy, but it's also complicated by the fact that there are so many places to watch an NBA live stream. ABC, TNT, ESPN, NBA TV and various regional sports networks all have broadcast rights for NBA games in the 2018 - 2019 season, so you need access to streaming sources for all of those if you want the best coverage possible.

We'll show you your best options for watching NBA live streams on ABC, TNT, ESPN, NBA TV, and even NBA League Pass. If none of those work for you, we've even got some sources for free NBA live streams that you can check out.

2018 - 2019 NBA Season Dates

Season starts: October 16, 2018
Playoffs start: April 13, 2019
NBA finals: May 30, 2019

Dates and times for the playoffs are not noted here because each round can start a few earlier than planned if the prior round ends sooner. Watch your local listings at NBA.com and then refer back here to get your stream going.

How to Watch the 2018 - 2019 NBA Season

For the 2018 - 2019 NBA season, four different national networks share the rights to broadcast both regular season and postseason games. Some games are also available on regional sports networks. That means the best way to watch is with a cable subscription or a subscription to a cable replacement streaming service.

Every team in the NBA plays 82 games per season, so it's unlikely that anyone would want, or be able to, watch every single game. If you want to leave your options open, and have the ability to watch as many games as possible, then you'll need to make sure you have some type of access to these channels:

  • ABC: Games are broadcast on ABC each week, throughout the regular season, on Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons. Some playoffs games are also shown on ABC, and the entirety of the NBA finals are broadcast on ABC.
  • ESPN: Doubleheaders are broadcast on ESPN on Wednesday and Friday nights throughout the season. The Western Conference Finals are also on ESPN in 2019.
  • TNT: Doubleheaders are broadcast on TNT on Tuesday and Thursday nights. The Eastern Conference Finals are also on TNT in 2019.
  • NBA TV: Games are broadcast on NBA TV almost every night throughout the regular season, and some playoff games are also on this network.
  • Regional sports networks: These networks have the rights to broadcast local teams. If you have a regional sports network in your area, it may have the rights to broadcast the games of your local NBA team.

How to Stream the NBA on a Streaming Service

Since NBA games are broadcast on four different networks, and a variety of regional sports networks, the best way to catch the most games possible is to use a streaming service.

Cable-replacement streaming services are a lot like cable and satellite television, but you stream them through a high speed internet connection instead of through your local cable company or a satellite provider. These services provide live streams of the exact same programming that you would watch on cable or satellite.

To use a television streaming service, you need high speed internet and at least one device that's capable of streaming, like a computer, a phone, a set-top box like a Roku, or even a game console.

These streaming services all offer unique lineups of channels, so some are better for watching the NBA than others.

All of the streaming services in this list offer some type of free trial, so you can start streaming NBA games without paying ahead of time.

Here are the most popular streaming services and the relevant channels that they offer:

  ESPN TNT NBA TV ABC
YouTube TV Yes Yes Yes Most markets
Hulu With Live TV Yes Yes No Most markets
PlayStation Vue Yes Yes Yes (Some plans) Most markets
DirecTV Now Yes Yes Yes (Some plans) Most markets
Sling TV Yes Yes Add-on Limited markets
fuboTV No Yes Yes Most markets

YouTube TV is the best option for streaming NBA games throughout the 2018 - 2019 season and postseason, because it includes ESPN, TNT, NBA TV, and it also has ABC in most markets.

Both PlayStation Vue and DirecTV Now represent potential good choices as well, depending on your area, but the required channels aren't included with their cheaper plans. Sling TV is also a decent option, but only if you live in one of the few markets where they're able to provide a live stream of ABC.

Fubo TV and Hulu with Live TV are the worst options for streaming the NBA, because fuboTV doesn't have ESPN, and Hulu with Live TV doesn't have NBA TV.

The availability of ABC from these services is based on your ZIP code. If a service doesn't have an agreement with the ABC affiliate in your area, you won't be able to live stream NBA on ABC games through that service.

How to Stream the NBA With NBA League Pass

NBA League Pass is a subscription service that allows you to stream NBA games. It has three different pricing tiers, each of which gives you a different level of access. The least expensive version allows you to stream games from a single team, and the most expensive gives you access to the most games possible.

While NBA League Pass does offer a good deal of flexibility, it's still subject to blackout rules. That means you may not be able to stream games from your local team, depending on where you live, and nationally broadcast games may also be blacked out.

NBA League Pass only offers free trial periods a few times throughout the season. If there is no free trial available when you go to sign up, you either have to pay for your subscription right away or wait for the next free trial.

Here's how to stream NBA games with NBA League Pass:

  1. Navigate to NBA.com/leaguepass.

    A screenshot of NBA League Pass.
  2. Scroll down, view the options, and click or tap Buy Now.

    A screenshot of NBA League Pass.
  3. Choose a plan, and click or tap BUY or PICK TEAM.

    A screenshot of the NBA League Pass subscription options.

    If you choose PICK TEAM, you will have to choose one team. You will be able to stream only that team's games, and normal blackouts will still apply. If you are blacked out from watching your local team, choosing your local team will not get around the blackout.

  4. Enter your email and password and click Sign In & Continue to sign in to your existing NBA Account, or click Create Account to make a new account.

    A screenshot of the NBA League Pass sign in screen.
  5. Enter your credit card information, select that box that indicates you accept the terms and conditions, and then click Process Payment.

    A screenshot of the NBA League Pass agreement.
  6. Once you have purchased your subscription, you can watch NBA games on NBA.com or any compatible mobile device through the NBA app.

Live Stream the 2018 - 2019 NBA Season on Your Phone, Tablet, or Streaming Device

If you want to watch NBA games on your mobile device, set top box, or game console, you'll need the appropriate app. Each of these apps requires some type of subscription to use.

The ESPN, TNT and ABC apps only allow you to live stream NBA games if you have a cable subscription, and the NBA app only lets you live stream games if you have an NBA League Pass subscription.

Here are some of the apps that allow you to stream NBA games:

We're providing links to the YouTube TV app because it provides the best level of NBA coverage for the most people. The other streaming services also have mobile apps.

Using Ace Stream to Watch NBA Games for Free

In some cases, you may find that none of the official NBA streaming options work for you. The ABC station in your area may not have an agreement with any of the streaming services, or you may be locked out of everything due to your geographic location. When that happens, the next best option is to stream through a program called Ace Stream.

Ace Stream is a media player, but it streams media instead of playing downloaded media. These streams are provided by other fans, so they're free, but the quality isn't always the best.

To stream an NBA game with Ace Stream, you first need to download and install the program. It's free, and we have a guide to streaming sports online with Ace Stream that can help walk you through the process.

Once you have Ace Stream, you need to find a content ID. Content IDs are basically addresses that Ace Stream uses to connect to a live stream.

The NBA Streams subreddit is one place that you can look for content IDs. You may also find links to other unofficial streams there that don't require Ace Stream. Similar content is also available through Discord.

The other good way to find a content ID is to use the search engine of your choice. For instance, if the Bucks were playing the Raptors, you would search for:

Bucks vs Raptors Ace Stream content ID

Ace Stream content IDs are provided by unofficial sources, like other fans, so they're free. Never pay anyone for access to content IDs, as it may be a scam. When visiting websites that have content IDs, be careful to avoid clicking on any suspicious ads, and consider installing an ad blocker for your own safety.

Free Online Sports Websites to Stream NBA Games

When the official sources don't work, and you aren't able to find any Ace Stream content IDs, the last option is to use an unofficial free online sports streaming site. These unofficial sites link to free streams, but they don't actually have the rights to stream NBA games.

Here are some of the free sports streaming sites where you can typically find NBA streams:

  • Stream2Watch
  • FromHot
  • Bosscast
  • Cricfree

For additional information about how to safely use sites like these, take a look at our guide to streaming free sports online.

Free sports streaming websites often go hand in hand with intrusive and invasive ads. Some ads on these sites will even prompt you to download a fake update for your operating system or media player, which may actually install malware on your computer. To safeguard yourself from threats like these, it's a good idea to install an ad blocker prior to looking for free sports streams online.