If you are outside the US, it doesn’t mean you have miss out on the NBA finals. This year’s title contest pits the favored Golden State Warriors against the Cleveland Cavaliers, led by LeBron James, who will be making an astounding eighth-straight finals appearance.
Sports bars aside, if you’re looking to watch from the comfort of your couch (or cubicle), here are some of the streaming options available for basketball fans around the world.
Streaming with a TV subscription
If you’ve got a TV subscription with a sports package, this is the best place to start.
Broadcasting and streaming rights vary country to country. In Australia, for example, Foxtel subscribers with ESPN will be able to view games on its website and mobile app. UK television viewers who have BT Sport will be able to watch on its website and app. In Hong Kong, paid subscribers to LeSports NBA have been promised free online access from the NBA after LeSports HK shut down.
Chances are, however, that if you’re reading this article, you don’t have those obvious options, which leads us to…
Watching with the NBA League Pass
If you are willing to pay for a hassle-free viewing experience, there’s the official NBA League Pass. The price of the international version varies by country (be prepared to shell out between US$20 to $40) and is available almost everywhere except the following countries (Sorry, Kim Jong Un):
- Central African Republic
- Cote D’Ivoire
- North Korea
Watching the NBA finals in China
China has a huge basketball fan base and is a country accustomed to getting free content online. While viewers can access NBA League Pass in China at no cost by going to Tencent Sports (link in Chinese), they’ll have to sign up to pay 30 yuan ($4.70) a month to get an ad-free version.
Watching the NBA finals with a VPN
If you don’t have a virtual private network, add sports viewing to the growing list of reasons why you should get one. There are many options available, including in-browser services, as detailed in this article.
Once you have that going, you can set your IP address to the US and access the same services that Americans enjoy. You can watch the games with a cable TV login or by signing up for a free trial with one of the streaming services below. This works only if you haven’t taken advantage of the trials before, and a single trial won’t get you through the whole finals.
- Hulu with Live TV ($40 a month, seven-day free trial).
- YouTube TV ($35 a month, seven-day free trial).
- PlayStation Vue ($45 a month for the cheapest package with sports, five-day free trial).
- DirecTV Now ($35 a month for cheapest package, seven-day free trial).
The sketchier options
You can always try your luck hunting for an unofficial live stream on Twitter or Facebook, but the usual warnings apply: The quality might be terrible (it is a phone pointing at a TV after all), the streams might get taken down during a pivotal moment, and you are treading on ground of dubious legality.
When will the NBA finals air?
Here is the schedule for the NBA finals:
- Game 1: Thursday, May 31 at 9pm ET
- Game 2: Sunday, June 3 at 8pm ET
- Game 3: Wednesday, June 6 at 9pm ET
- Game 4: Friday, June 8 at 9pm ET
- Game 5: Monday, June 11 at 9pm ET (if necessary)
- Game 6: Thursday, June 14 at 9pm ET (if necessary)
- Game 7: Sunday, June 17 at 8pm ET (if necessary)