Here’s how to stream live NBA games on ESPN, TNT and more

This holiday, you don’t need cable to watch all of your team’s games from the comfort of your home.

While you absolutely don’t need cable to watch basketball this year, it still might be the easiest and cheapest choice depending on where you live.

Read more: NHL in 2021: How to watch and stream hockey without cable

Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors during a recent game.

Die-hard sports fans are beholden to regional sports networks, or RSNs, that carry the majority of the games for their local team. These RSNs are usually included in local cable packages, so most cable subscribers never have to worry about gaining access to the broadcasts on these channels: They can simply turn on the TV and watch the game.

Cord-cutting basketball fans have a tougher path. Because of rights agreements, most live TV streaming services like YouTube TV or Hulu with Live TV don’t carry many RSNs. DirecTV Stream is the exception. It has nearly every RSN, particularly the Bally Sports channels (formerly Fox Sports) offered by Sinclair, but you’ll need to spring for its $85-a-month plan.

Read more: DirecTV Stream review: Expensive, but the best option for streaming NBA and NHL

Ultimately, depending on your location, getting a cable subscription that includes ESPN, TNT and the local RSN might actually be cheaper and easier than streaming — especially if it’s bundled with the home internet you’ll likely be getting anyway.

For NBA fans looking to watch a ton of out-of-market basketball, a subscription to NBA League Pass has a lot to offer. You can get the whole NBA slate for $199 for the season, with commercials and one device, or $249 for the season with in-arena feeds instead of commercials, and the ability to watch on two devices at once. Those interested in following only a single team can buy a Team Pass for $119 for the season.

The key catch here is “out-of-market.” Most fans are in-market, meaning they follow the local team, and unfortunately for them RSNs have broadcast exclusivity in the region that they cover. That means local NBA games are blacked out on NBA League Pass.

If you’re living in Los Angeles, for example, you won’t be able to watch Lakers or Clippers games on NBA League Pass. The same goes for Knicks fans in New York, Bucks fans in Milwaukee and so on. The only way to watch most of those home team games in your home market is to get a service that has the local RSN, namely Spectrum SportsNet, Bally Sports SoCal, MSG Network or Bally Sports Wisconsin.

Services like NBA League Pass use IP addresses to block out games in viewers’ regions — you’ll just get a black screen if you try to watch those games. That’s why League Pass is ideal for those who want to follow one or more of the teams based in cities other than their own, aka out-of-market teams, but for local fans it’s not as useful.

In another twist, the NBA TV network will broadcast 107 games this season that will be considered national for those out-of-market. This means that you will still be able to watch your local team play on your RSN, but viewers around the country will need NBA TV in order to watch the game — it will be blacked out on League Pass.

Luckily, League Pass subscribers have the option of adding NBA TV to their package for an extra $60 a year or $7 a month. This is most likely one of the cheapest ways to get NBA TV for the out-of-market fan.

YouTube TV is the only live TV streaming service that includes NBA TV in its base channel lineup. DirecTV Stream, FuboTV and Sling offer the channel only on higher-priced tiers or in special add-ons; see below for details.

For those determined to watch their local basketball team without a cable or satellite TV subscription, a live TV streaming service is the best bet. While it is pricey, DirecTV Stream is the best option for most people, particularly those where the local games air on Bally Sports networks.

Below is a chart of all of the NBA teams in the US and their corresponding RSNs.

Note: None of the (US-based) services carry the RSN for the Toronto Raptors. Fans looking to watch Fred VanVleet and co. need to use NBA League Pass to get all the games that are not either on your local RSN or on a US national broadcast.

Some key takeaways:

One other note: If you don’t recognize the name of some of these channels, don’t worry. As mentioned, the Fox Sports RSNs have been rebranded as Bally Sports, because the channels are no longer owned by Fox but Sinclair, which has since partnered with casino group Bally’s to rename them.

DirecTV Stream is expensive. It’s the priciest of the five major live TV streaming services, but it’s also the one with the most RSNs. Its cheapest, $70-a-month Plus package includes ESPN, ABC, TNT and TBS. You’ll need to move up to the $85-a-month Choice plan to get any available RSN as well as NBA TV. You can use its channel lookup tool to see which local channels and RSNs are available in your area.

Aside from DirecTV Stream, the odds are long that a live TV streaming service carries the RSN for your local team’s games, which makes the other four services better bets for watching nationally televised games.

FuboTV costs $65 per month and offers 10 RSNs for basketball. It also includes ESPN, but not TBS — which might be a problem for some basketball fans. But you can add NBA TV for an extra $7 a month with the Fubo Extra Package or pay for the $80-a-month Elite streaming tier, which includes Fubo Extra. Check out which local networks and RSNs it offers here.

YouTube TV costs $65 a month and offers six RSNs for basketball, along with all of the national broadcasts including NBA TV. Plug in your ZIP code on its welcome page to see which local networks and RSNs are available in your area.

Hulu Plus Live TV costs $65 a month and carries six RSNs for basketball, along with ESPN, ABC, TBS and TNT, but not NBA TV. Click the “View all channels in your area” link at the bottom of its welcome page to see which local networks and RSNs are available where you live.

Sling Blue currently lacks a single RSN to watch basketball. You can, however, use Sling to watch some national broadcasts. Sling TV’s Orange plan includes ESPN, and both plans offer TBS, but neither of them gives you access to ABC. NBA TV is available as part of the Sports Extra add-on, which costs $11 a month for either the Blue or Orange plan, or $15 for the combined Orange-and-Blue plan. The individual plans cost $35 a month each, and the Orange-and-Blue plan costs $50 a month. You can see which local channels you get here.

Each live TV streaming service offers a free trial, allows you to cancel anytime and requires a solid internet connection. Looking for more information? Check out our live TV streaming services guide.

Ted Lasso: From head bumps to bad biscuits, 9 things to know

There was a real Ted Lasso? Kind of. As season 2 of the Emmy-nominated show approaches, let’s dig up some trivia about the Apple TV Plus pandemic hit.

Brendan Hunt (Coach Beard) and Jason Sudeikis (Ted Lasso) took inspiration for the show from hours of playing video-game soccer together.

Most fans likely know Ted Lasso began not as a TV show, but as oversized commercials for NBC’s coverage of the English Premier League. The popularity of the ads inspired the development of the series. Those ads are still online, and they’re hilarious.

In the first video, Ted begins coaching the (real) Tottenham Hotspur F.C., and quickly learns how much he has to learn. (“Ties, and no playoffs. Why do you even do this?” he says at one point.) By the end of the short film, he’s fired after about six and a half hours on the job. Whoops. But at least he tried to call the queen.

In 2014’s The Return of Ted Lasso, he moves from coaching to sports announcing, and guess what? He’s just as adorably confused, and has no idea he’s broadcasting live even though the word “LIVE” is displayed in huge letters behind his desk.

In one first-season scene, Ted Lasso makes a quick exit from Rebecca’s office and exuberantly jumps as he does it. Wham, he hits his head smack on the door frame. If the injury looks real, uh, it is.

“I really hit my head there,” Sudeikis confirmed to Drew Barrymore in an interview. “That was a complete accident.” It wasn’t until he got off stage that his head started gushing blood, the actor said. “They had to glue my head shut,” he told Barrymore.

Ted bribes team owner Rebecca with homemade shortbread served up in delightful pink boxes. Perfect with a nice cuppa. Apple TV Plus has teased at giving away the recipe. At the very end of a video hyping the streaming service’s new and upcoming programs, Apple rolled credits. Sharp-eyed viewers saw the words “Ted Lasso’s Secret Shortbread (makes about one box)” plus an image of a shortbread box, but then the credits stopped. Ha ha ha?

But numerous recipe sites have taken up the challenge and offered their versions of a shortbread recipe that fans could make and call Ted Lasso’s. People magazine has one that looks good, and pop-culture pro Binging With Babish offers both a classic rendition and a browned-butter recipe.

Hannah Waddingham, who plays Rebecca, says the shortbread she’s offered on the show, however, has been left around to dry out and tastes like “eating a bit of dried-out sponge.”

The velvet-toned announcer on Ted Lasso knows his stuff. That’s because he’s Arlo White, a native Brit who’s the lead play-by-play voice of NBC Sports’ US Premier League coverage. (In one of the ads that inspired the show, Ted makes him say “champions” again just to hear how it rolls like butter off White’s tongue.)

And while White is British, he was named after American folk singer Arlo Guthrie. As befits his name, he’s a true fan of all things American, including the Chicago Cubs and Chicago Bears, inspired by a trip he took to Chicago as a kid.

“That two weeks in Chicago changed my life,” he told the Derby (UK) Telegraph. “I became obsessed with America. I loved everything about it.” That star-spangled side makes him a perfect addition to a show that blends America and the UK.

Fans may be getting impatient waiting for season 2, but at least they can rest assured there’s still more Ted Lasso to come. In October 2020, months before work began on season two, Apple renewed the show for a third season.

What to expect in each season? Since Ted’s team, AFC Richmond, was relegated at the end of season 1, season 2 will show the team fighting its way back to the Premier League. It seems likely season 3 will show them clambering to the top of that league, though who knows if they’ll win it all? For that to happen, Ted might need to learn the definition of “offsides” first.

Hannah Waddingham, who plays team owner Rebecca, was on the huge HBO hit Game of Thrones. But you may not recognize her, because she was mostly hidden under the habit of her character, Septa Unella, the religious zealot who rang a bell and shouted “Shame!” while marching a naked Cersei through the streets.

Do you recognize Ted Lasso’s boss from her unnerving role in Game of Thrones?

But Cersei swore she’d get her revenge, and she did. Eventually, Waddingham’s character was waterboarded with wine, then left to die horribly at the hands of the undead Gregor Clegane. Waddingham’s spoken publicly about how gruesome and painful the waterboarding was — eating stale shortbread must seem like a picnic after that.

The plot of Ted Lasso might seem just a little too Hollywood — how could an American football coach end up hired to coach a sport he knows nothing about? But there’s some precedent.

American Terry Smith played football for the New England Patriots from 1982 to 1984. He coached in the US and then moved to Manchester, England, to become the player-head coach of the Manchester Spartans — though that’s an American football team, not a soccer/British football team.

However, in 1999, he moved out of American football and into the British kind when he bought Chester City FC, also deciding to coach them himself. And from then on, well, you can just see the Ted Lasso elements in the news stories. Smith apparently said that “all coaching is 90% the same, regardless of the sport” — can’t you just hear Ted bellowing that? He also tried such Lasso-esque tricks as having the team practice with an imaginary ball. The BBC called his coaching career “one of English football’s most bizarre soap operas.”

In the first episode, a clip is shown of Ted dancing in the locker room with his Wichita State Shockers football team. (Spoiler: The real Wichita State does not even have a football team these days, but Sudeikis, who was born in Virginia, moved to Kansas as a child and wanted a Kansas school for Ted.)

If Ted’s enthusiastic dancing looks familiar, you may have seen some of his moves on Saturday Night Live, when Sudeikis danced in the recurring “What Up With That?” sketches.

Brendan Hunt, the actor who plays Ted’s reserved right-hand man, Coach Beard, is a lot more active behind the scenes. He’s one of the show’s co-creators and also wrote or co-wrote several episodes.

To create the show, Hunt and Sudeikis drew on experiences from the years they spent working in Amsterdam, when they loved to play Man United vs Arsenal in the FIFA video game.