Basketball fans are revving up for the 2017-18 NBA season, which kicks off next Wednesday morning in Australia with a huge double-header: Boston plays Cleveland and the Rockets face off against the perennial superteam, the Warriors. For NBA fans in Australia, there are a few ways to watch, and we break down the cheapest right here.
When Does The NBA Season Start?
The NBA season kicks off, officially, on Tuesday, October 17 at 8pm ET in Cleveland, Ohio. For Australians, that means the first game will air at 11am AEDT on October 18.
How Can I Watch The NBA In Australia?
Foxtel / ESPN
NBA games are not broadcast on free-to-air TV in Australia. However, ESPN, part of Foxtel’s Sports package, airs five live games every week. With 1230 games between now and the end of the season next June, you’re only looking at seeing about one-sixth of all the games played on ESPN but that’s definitely sufficient if you’re a casual follower of the sport that just likes to kick back and watch whichever team happens to be on, any given day.
However, it might be enough for you depending on the team you follow. Chicago Bulls fans might want to look away, for instance, as they only have one televised game on ESPN this season, on February 9, 2018. If you’re a fan of the Bulls, you’re not going to get too much activity on Foxtel.
Foxtel packages can be pricey – the current sports package costs $55 per month and has a $100 installation fee when you sign up to get a Foxtel box. If you want the sports channels in HD, that will costs an extra $10 a month. As we’ve mentioned many times before, Foxtel Now, a dedicated streaming service you can use without a box, has a two-week free trial period for new users. That won’t see you through to the end of the NBA season, but it’s a good taste of whether or not ESPNs offering is good enough for you.
If you do wish to use ESPN for the entire season, the cheaper option is the Foxtel Now package which will cost you $44 per month and allow you to stream the channel via your tablet, smartphone, PC, Chromecast, Telstra TV, PS4 or compatible smart TV. You can have up to three registered devices at a time. The caveat: while it’s $21 a month cheaper than the HD install option, Foxtel Now only streams in 720p.
NBA League Pass
Crazy about basketball? Then you need an NBA League Pass. This will give you access to every single game of the season live. That’s right – 1230 games of the regular season and however many playoff games once the seasons over.
However, it is pricey. If you absolutely must see everything, you’re looking at $39.99 a month or $299.99 for the year.
However, League Pass offers two other options: The cheapest package costs $14.99 a month or $109.99 a year, which allows you to watch just 8 games per month. If you’re only interested in one team, you can watch them for $19.99 per month or $169.99 for the year.
NBA League Pass via VPN
There is one way to get the entire season, every team, every game for ultra-cheap though.
Use a VPN.
Spotted by a clever OzBargain user, if you use a Mexican VPN to sign up to League Pass, you will be able to select Mexican Pesos as a payment option. The exchange rate at the moment leaves the price somewhere between $90 - $100 AUD, as long as you also used the code PRESEASON 10. As of writing, there is no end-date on the code, but it’s likely that it will end when the preseason does, on Saturday, October 14.
You won’t need to use a VPN every time you log in, only when you sign up. I wouldn’t recommend using Hola – which the OzBargain user used to access this deal. Instead, use our handy guide to VPNs to get started, you may even find some VPNs, such as NordVPN, with free trials that will allow you to connect without paying any extra over the top.
There are no guarantees that the NBA don’t come down on this, so if you’re looking to jump in, I recommend doing so quickly. Having purchased the League Pass for the last five or so years (besides last year), I can attest to the fact that you can sign up in one location and watch anywhere around the world without issue. Routinely when travelling, I was able to sign into my League Pass account (which I purchased in Australia), and watch live or on-demand games with the only issue being the hotel wi-fi connection (which was routinely horrid).
You might know what a virtual private network (VPN) is, but the odds of you actually using one are low. You really should be using a VPN — ultimately, you may end up seeing it as just as vital as your internet connection. We'll tell you why, explain how to choose a VPN provider and list five that are worth considering.
Another way to stream games is through online betting agencies, subject to some terms and conditions that make accessing them a little restrictive. This is still pay-to-watch, it’s just that in this case, you have a chance of getting your money back. For instance, William Hill suggests that you can stream and bet on every NBA Game Live. However, in the fine print there are some eligibility criteria that must be met:
- You must have a positive balance in your betting account - You must have placed a wager in the preceding 24 hours
Bet365 offer live streaming too, with similar terms and conditions: You must have a funded Sports account or have placed a bet within the last 24 hours.
Ladbrokes also offers some matches but, having spoken to a representative of the company, they don't advertise this routinely due to 'feed instability'
Like I always recommend, Reddit is a valuable resource when it comes to searching for one-off links to games. It’s a community where people are more than willing to share links. Some of those links are sports related. In this case, if you look at the Reddit community r/nbastreams, you may be able to find links to specific matches on game day. This is not always limited to the NBA games either, so if you’re interested in basketball leagues around the world, it’s worth checking in at the subreddit.
Can I Stream The NBA In Australia For Free?
Yes, sort of. You won't have access to any official streams for free - unless the NBA Australia portal is showing them, but you may find links through the aforementioned Reddit community.
What Is The Cheapest Way To Stream The NBA In Australia?
Let's break down the various costs of the methods discussed above.
|Foxtel Now||$396 for the full season (9 months)|
|Foxtel IQ||SD: $495 (9 months)
HD: $585(9 months)
|NBA League Pass (Aus)||Eight Game: $14.99/month, $109.99/year
Team: $19.99/month, $169.99/year
Premium: $39.99/month, $299.99/year
|NBA League Pass (VPN)||~$90-$100/year|
|Betting Agencies*||Wager 24 hours before each match
Have positive account balance
*minimum deposit amount is $5
|r/nbastreams often has access to free live streams - though these are not sanctioned by the NBA|
If we break it down, there are clear winners. The Reddit community may provide access to free streams on any NBA game day, but these are not always stable and not delivered by the NBA. If you have no problem giving your money to an online betting agency, then you can always deposit and wager before a match of your choosing - but I wouldn't necessarily recommend this. The streams are generally low to average quality, designed for punters to have a look at the score and get a feel for the momentum of the game so they are encouraged to spend more money on an outcome.
As it stands, for a full season of NBA action - including playoffs - you're going to want to sign up using a VPN and connecting through a Mexican server where you can pay in Pesos. This will save you around $200 on the year.
Of course, you could just wander down to the local sports bar whenever your favourite team is playing, but you might end up splurging on a few diet Cokes if you're not careful.
Go Spurs Go! If you have any hints or tips about watching NBA games in Australia - let us know in the comments