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NBA announces League Pass pricing for 2013-14 season

Sep 10, 2013, 8:42 PM EDT

nba league pass

There was a little bit of a rumbling (read: a mini-freakout) from a section of hardcore NBA fans on Tuesday, when a mass email was sent out from the league in error that announced a skyrocketing of the price to purchase League Pass for next season.

The service that allows access to watch all most regular season games either over the internet or through your local cable provider is essential to NBA junkies, and after the small amount of hysteria that went down in response to the emailed announcement, the league confirmed its pricing for the service for the 2013-14 season.

The Premium full season package that includes all teams will go for a $189 early bird price, and will be $199 after Nov. 5.

The 5-Team Choice Package (broadband only) is $129.99 early bird, and 139.99 after Nov.5 The mobile package to watch games live on your cell phone or tablet will be $49.99.

These prices are in line with what was charged last season, and it’s fair for the offering. There have been wide-ranging complaints about the quality of the service — games being “unavailable due to technical difficulties,” not every game being offered in HD 100 percent of the time, and shaky quality of broadcasts — but overall I found the service to be of more than serviceable quality the majority of the time.

My issues with League Pass are more about the games that you can’t watch via this service.

The limitations are extremely frustrating, and include the following:

Games televised on NBA TV are not included in League Pass broadband (i.e., NBA TV must be purchased through your cable operator in order to view these games): This doesn’t seem like a fair exclusion. If it’s NBA TV and I’m paying to watch NBA games, then those shown on this channel should be available through my League Pass broadband account.

Games televised on TNT, ESPN, or ABC are not included in the League Pass broadband package: This one doesn’t make sense, because if the games are offered technically for free over the air, I should be able to see them over the league’s broadband service as one of its paying customers.

League Pass broadband archives all games for later viewing, which is fantastic. However, the ones shown on the previously-mentioned networks aren’t included, and my local team’s games are both blacked out live and are not available via the archive service. As a journalist who attends my local team’s games in person (or is traveling to see games in other cities), if I forget to set the DVR for whatever channel the game where I live happens to be shown on, I’m unable to watch when I get home or the following day.

Of course, I understand why these restrictions are in place. The NBA is trying to get more people to watch its games on these networks that pay the league billions for broadcast rights, and isn’t trying to get fans to cut the cord with cable by offering its product by itself for a flat rate price.

(Full disclosure: I literally only turn on my television to watch live sports in real time. I would definitely drop my cable subscription if I could pay whatever to watch 100 percent of NBA games online.)

But if the NBA wanted to do right by its fans, it would find a way to distribute those dollars wherever they need to go behind the scenes, and provide the full compliment of its games to its customers for one flat rate, in one simple online solution.

  1. gugurich - Sep 10, 2013 at 9:01 PM

    These restrictions on replays and being able to view games shown on NBATV live on NBA broadband are much less understandable when the other major sports leagues don’t have them. MLB lets customers watch all non-Fox national broadcasts live on MLB.TV and every game, including local games, are available for replay. Same thing with the NHL package. Even the NFL, which doesn’t even let outsider websites to embed highlights that presumably promote their sport, enables fans to watch replays of every game via NFL Rewind. The NBA has bar none the worst digital offering. To top it off, you have to download a bittorrent-like application like Octoshape just to get games to stream properly.

    Hopefully the NBA will re-claim their digital rights in their next negotiations. When Gary Bettman and the NHL is whipping his old boss, it’s really time for the NBA to self-reflect.

  2. Ti Brown - Sep 10, 2013 at 10:19 PM

    It would be great if you could select a collection of games to view and pay some lesser price, like 15 games for $99; especially if NetFlix or Hulu offered them on demand.

  3. ballfan291 - Sep 10, 2013 at 11:47 PM

    If I live in the local area where my team is showed but my cabel provider doesn’t carry the channel they’re on, and they would be blacked out on league pass, how can i watch my team??

  4. newyorkshets - Sep 11, 2013 at 12:43 AM

    They show follow the mlbtv model. It would be awesome to access archive games and stream games from gaming consoles as mlb allows it.

  5. herogoesallin - Sep 11, 2013 at 12:46 AM

    League Pass has poor quality.
    We are living in 2013 and not 2005 anymore. Stay away!!!!!

  6. ProBasketballPundit - Sep 11, 2013 at 1:32 AM

    I’ll gladly fork over the $190 for nightly entertainment over six months. And NBA League Pass Broadband has seriously improved. Almost all the online streaming games are 720p HD quality, unlike the NFL Ticket streaming option. There’s also picture in picture or the ability to just stream two games simultaneously if your PC/internet can handle it. Sign me up!

  7. ptroupe5 - Sep 11, 2013 at 5:41 AM

    What about people that are overseas, and get the international League pass? They still gonna blackout all the games because that would be a crime!! That’s the only way I can get my NBA fix when I’m over here!

  8. zuiyo - Sep 11, 2013 at 7:49 AM

    I was a client before, but the blackouts became really annoying. Also, small chunks of the games disappeared from the streamed signal. They weren’t there. It was irritating.

  9. ochotrinko - Sep 11, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    Can you watch your local team on League Pass? I know the MLB package blacks the local game out, so I’m wondering if LP does the same…

    • Kurt Helin - Sep 11, 2013 at 5:46 PM

      No, you cannot watch your local team. You have to get that on your regular cable package.

  10. ochotrinko - Sep 11, 2013 at 12:26 PM

    the above question applies especially to the five team package choice package. If GS is one of my five teams, and the play my local team, will the game be blacked out?

  11. 007pandasblog - Sep 30, 2013 at 10:08 AM

    With Apple TV offering MLB that I really enjoyed, I was surprised to see the cost for the NBA exceeded the cost of MLB with restriction. As most Of the sports viewing public cutting the cable cords it is going to get pricey using a tablet or lap top.

  12. allancaifan - Nov 6, 2013 at 12:50 PM

    I did hours of research before purchasing NBA LP BB for viewing on my Apple TV. I purchased the subscription that allowed me to follow 5 teams. I reviewed the black out rules in entirety and thought I was getting a good deal to watch out of market games for my two home teams: The L.A. Lakers and L.A. Clippers. I don’t have cable and I thought that if I could at least watch out of market L.A. Lakers/Clippers games I would be content. What I totally missed is that the black out rules dictate: “Blackouts take place when a game is televised locally in your area via a regional sports network or an over-the-air station. If a game is blacked out on NBA LEAGUE PASS in your local area, you should tune to your local station to see the game.” This means that only your local cable network, in my case Time Warner Cable, has the exclusive right to televise home AND away games in my area. I did research on and found that most teams are now carried by regional sports networks. What this means for most basketball fans is that you definitely cannot watch your local teams home AND away games on NBA LP. What you CAN watch is most of the games for teams outside of your regional sports network’s coverage area. It’s good to watch good match ups. But sucks if you don’t know what you’re getting beforehand.

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