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NBA League Pass




| Feb. 3, 2007

NBA league pass is a cable TV package available via subscription. For a one-time fee per season, NBA league pass gives you access to almost every single live game across the entire league, every day.

NBA league pass gives you almost all games, live as they happen, except for (1) games on a national network like ESPN/ESPN2, TNT, ABC or NBA TV and (2) games on a local cable channel that broadcasts local coverage of an NBA team in that area. More on this below.

You pay a one-time (per season) fee for NBA league pass, usually $189 USD for the season. Though, sometime between a third and halfway through the season the price usually drops to $99. When you sign up for NBA league pass you get about 10 channels that are dedicated soley to the games. Specifically it's about 7 game channels and then 2-3 stats channels that are sometimes used for games when there's a very busy schedule.

On many (possibly all) cable systems, NBA TV is included for free for the season when you sign up for NBA league pass.

When no games are on, the channels are blank or playing an ad for league pass. When games are on they're spread out over those channels. The games are all shown live, just as they're being played.

NBA league pass doesn't show replays of games. So, you need to watch live, flipping channels around if you feel like it. Or, if you have extra cable boxes, TIVO or some sort of digital recording service that let's you, you can tape one while watching others, etc.

NBA league pass does not show games that are on national television. Networks which currently show national games are ESPN/ESPN2, TNT, ABC and NBA TV.

Also, if you live in an area that has a local television station that covers a local team, any game shown on that local channel won't be available to that person on league pass.

To summarize, if you get NBA league pass, you are getting almost every game from every team, except your local team if they are on a local channel, and except the national games shown on ESPN/ESPN2, TNT, ABC or NBA TV.

Example: If you live in New York City and have cable TV and the proper packages you can watch Knicks games on MSG network (a local cable channel), Nets games on YES network (a local cable channel). So, if you get NBA league pass, Knicks and Nets games will be blocked out, since other channels on your cable network show those games already. But you'll get pretty much every single other game, every day, all season, except the games shown on ESPN/ESPN, TNT, ABC or NBA TV.

ESPN/ESPN2, NBA TV and TNT generally only show a few games per week. ABC only shows a few games per season, aside from the playoffs. So, the vast majority of games each night are only available to you on NBA league pass.


As editor of, initially I didn't subscribe to NBA league pass because I was already going to lots of games in person and also have plenty on regular cable to watch. But, in the middle of the 2004-05 season I did sign up, and I've stuck with it ever since. I love being able to watch whatever game I want, and during commericals, halftime or lulls in the game, immediately flipping to another game and being entertained pretty much nonstop.

The only negative is that the video quality of the games is pretty low. NBA league pass games are not as clear as games on ESPN, TNT or local cable channels (which for me are MSG and YES network - I'm in New York City). I'm not sure why this is, and originally I thought it might be my cable system, but I've asked around and everyone else seems to experience it too. Still, the video quality of NBA League pass is clear enough to tolerate, so it's definitely worth getting if seeing the same teams over and over on national TV doesn't quite satisfy you.

Also, the NBA League Pass package includes free NBA TV.

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