The NBA Playoffs start on Saturday, April 13th. This is the time of year when the game shifts from good to great. Here’s how to catch all the action without a cable subscription, so you never miss a game.
There are a few specific channels you’ll need to watch every game: ESPN, ABC, TNT, and NBA TV. Various games from the first round are aired on all four channels, but the second round is only on ESPN and ABC. The conference finals are only televised on ESPN, with the Finals airing exclusively on ABC.
Watch ABC and TNT for Free
You can grab ABC for free by using an OTA HD antenna, which gets you at least part of the way there. Roughly nine games from the first round will air on ABC, several in the second round, and it’s also the home of the Finals—in other words, this is a channel you don’t want to miss out on. If you’re not familiar with OTA HD antennas or how to set them up, worry not my friend, we have you covered. You’re welcome.
For TNT, there’s also a free option: TNT Overtime. This is a service that’s really designed to offer a “second screen” alongside the main TNT broadcast. As such, you won’t get the same viewing experience as watching the game on TV, but it’s actually a bit more intimate, offering multiple different views, like a backboard cam, player cams, and an action cam. You can also watch all four at the same time. There’s potential for 37 games on TNT (depending on how long each series goes), so that’s a lot of basketball. The best part is that Overtime just works—no need for any additional setup.
For ESPN and NBA TV: Time to Buy Into a Streaming Package
While you can get ABC and TNT coverage for free, you’ll need to pay up for ESPN and NBA TV. Here are the best streaming packages to get the channels you need.
The Best Option: Sling Orange + Sports Extras ($35/mo)
For NBA TV, you’ll have to add the Sports Extra package, which is an extra $10 a month.
It’s also worth noting that at the time of writing Sling is offering a discount for new users—grab Sling Orange for $15 a month for the first three months instead of $25. That should pretty much cover all of the Playoffs and Finals for you. Nice.
An Okay Option: PlayStation Vue Core ($50/mo)
If you’re strongly opposed to going with Sling and/or saving money, PlayStation Vue is the next best option. With Vue, you can get ESPN, NBA TV, and TNT in the Core package for $50 a month. Like with Sling, ABC is available regionally.
Despite sounding like a PlayStation-exclusive product, Vue is available on a wide range of devices, including Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, and more.
Another Okay Option: YouTube TV ($50/mo)
If PlayStation Vue doesn’t tickle your fancy and you’re looking for something outside of Sling, then YouTube TV is another good choice. YouTube TV recently came under fire for raising its price to $50 a month, but it’s still a good option for anyone looking to watch b-ball. For a fifty spot, you get ESPN, TNT, and NBA TV, with ABC available regionally.
So, What About DirecTV Now and Hulu With Live TV?
We’d be remiss not to mention why these are left off the list, and it’s for one good reason: they don’t offer all the channels you need for a reasonable price. There’s no option for NBA TV on Hulu, and DirecTV Now charges $124 a month for a package that includes NBA TV. You can, however, get ABC, TNT, and ESPN for $50 a month with either option—I guess they’re both fine options if you’re okay with not having access to NBA TV.
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