How to bypass NBA League Pass blackouts (VPN workaround)

How to bypass NBA League Pass blackouts (VPN workaround)

August 18, 2023 privacy 0

There’s nothing more frustrating than being unable to live stream NBA games just because of broadcast restrictions. One moment you’re ready to watch your favorite team play; the next, an annoying blackout notice appears on your screen.

Fortunately, a virtual private network (VPN) can help bypass these blocks by changing your IP address to one located outside the restricted region. But what are these blackouts and why do they exist in the first place?

This guide will help you dunk on blackouts, so you can enjoy the basketball season to the fullest. Let’s dive in!

How to bypass NBA League Pass blackouts with a VPN: A quick guide

Using a VPN gives you the ability to bypass NBA League Pass blackouts. Here are the exact steps you need to follow to unlock full coverage of the basketball season.

  1. Choose a VPN service that’s compatible with the NBA League Pass. ExpressVPN is our top choice for its fast speeds, solid security, and extensive server network.
  1. Download and install the appropriate VPN app on your device. Premium providers offer dedicated apps for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, streaming boxes, smart TVs, and even routers.
  1. Connect to a server located outside the NBA blackout region. For locally televised games, connect to a server in another state to live stream the match. For national blackouts, you’ll want to connect to a server in a different country.
  1. Finally, log into your NBA League Pass account. You’ll now be able to access NBA games without restrictions.

If you’re still facing blackouts, we recommend clearing your browser’s cache and cookies. Alternatively, connecting to another server may resolve the issue in case the earlier IP address is blacklisted. All our recommended VPNs provide email and 24/7 live chat support if you need further assistance.

What are NBA blackouts and why do they exist?

NBA blackouts are restrictions that prevent you from watching live broadcasts of certain games on your NBA League Pass. The platform uses your IP address to determine your geo-location and impose blackouts.

NBA blackouts fall into two main categories – local and national. Local blackouts exist due to licensing agreements with local TV networks and apply to all states which have an NBA team.

For instance, when we tried to access NBA League Pass to watch the Miami Heat from Miami, we received the following blackout notice:

“Based on your current location, you are unable to watch Heat games LIVE via NBA League Pass and NBA TV. An archive of any locally blacked out game will be available 3 days after the broadcast for League Pass subscribers.”

Local networks pay huge fees to get exclusive in-market broadcasting privileges for local NBA games. These blackouts compel fans to subscribe to local sports networks to watch their home team play.

The national blackouts are just as bad and exist due to NBA media rights deals with national networks like ESPN, TNT, and ABC. These blackouts usually occur during high-profile games like the NBA Finals and Christmas Day games.

The NBA blackouts exist to protect the league’s intricate web of licensing deals and media rights agreements. But the restrictions can be frustrating as they prevent you from viewing certain games on your League Pass. The good news is you can bypass certain blackouts, both on your desktop and mobile devices using a VPN.

Bypass NBA blackouts on desktop (Windows & Mac)

You can bypass both local and national blackouts on your desktop or laptop with a VPN. All the suggested VPNs provide apps for Windows and macOS, so you can quickly catch NBA action on your PC or Mac.

On Windows, all you need to do is download and install the VPN software, connect to a server in an allowed region (preferably a nearby server), and stream games on NBA League Pass without restrictions. We recommend ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and Surfshark as they provide a user-friendly Windows app that masks your real IP address and grants you seamless access to blacked-out games.

The same process works for Mac. Download and install the custom app, connect to a server outside the blackout region, and enjoy restriction-free streaming. You may need to try a few servers to find one that works best.

Note: If you’re connected to a server outside your blackout region but still can’t stream the game, make sure that your new IP address doesn’t fall within the blackout zone of the opposing team. Try connecting to a neutral server location that is outside the blackout region for both teams playing in the match.

Bypass NBA blackouts on mobile

You can also evade NBA blocks and stream live games on your smartphone or tablet. However, the process is a little different from desktop platforms. Unlike the desktop version that utilizes your IP address, the NBA League Pass mobile app uses your phone’s GPS location to impose blackout restrictions. As such, some VPNs may not work with the NBA League Pass.

Thankfully, there are apps that allow you to spoof your GPS data so that the League Pass app can’t know that you’re in a restricted region. Some VPNs, including Surfshark and Windscribe, have built-in GPS spoofing capability, making them ideal options for bypassing NBA blackouts on mobile devices.

To stream live NBA games on an Android device, go to the Play Store and download a top-rated VPN like ExpressVPN or Surfshark. Launch the VPN app and connect to a server location that works. You’ll now be able to live stream local and nationally blacked-out NBA games.

The method is similar for iOS devices. Download the iOS app of the VPN provider from the App Store and log into your account. Connect to a server outside of the blackout region and launch the NBA app to stream blacked-out games.

With the right VPN, you can access NBA League Pass content without blackout restrictions. A VPN tricks the app into thinking that you’re outside a blocked region, even if you’re next to the stadium.

Can I use a free VPN to bypass NBA League Pass blackouts?

Yes, you can, but not all free VPNs work with NBA League Pass. They are often overcrowded due to their small server network, so you may not get the speeds necessary for seamless streaming of NBA games. This also causes lag and buffering and leads to a choppy streaming experience.

Secondly, free VPNs also provide less reliable connections. You may face disruptions, making it difficult for you to watch a full NBA game without interruptions.

While free VPNs seem tempting, we advise against them for security reasons too. Most free VPNs have sketchy logging policies that expose you to potential cybersecurity risks. They are also riddled with intrusive ads and hidden trackers that may collect your browsing history and internet activities and sell them to third-party advertisers.

Therefore, paying a few dollars every month for a top VPN is always worth it for fast speeds, solid privacy, and dependable performance.

How do I get the cheapest NBA League Pass subscription?

The international version of the League Pass is the most affordable way to catch NBA action. It’s significantly cheaper than the US version and is intended for fans living outside the US and Canada. For instance, if you’re purchasing the League Pass from Argentina, you’ll get it for 699.9 pesos or about $3 USD. 

However, you’ll need a VPN to connect to an Argentine server to make it appear like you’re in Argentina, so you can purchase the international subscription. If you’re on a budget and don’t mind the extra step of using a VPN, going with the international version can save you some money while granting access to the entire NBA season.

Bypass NBA League Pass blackouts: FAQs

[[post-object type=”accordion” question=”Is it illegal to bypass NBA blackouts?” answer=”

There are no laws that explicitly prohibit the use of VPNs or other methods to bypass NBA blackouts. However, it does technically violate the NBA’s Terms of Service which states: “You agree that you will not use any Service if you are located outside of the allowable territories or in an area where blackout restrictions apply.

However, it’s highly unlikely to prosecute individual users for accessing blacked-out games. The most that the NBA can do is probably ban your NBA account, but evidence suggests even that is unlikely.

To discourage bypass attempts, the NBA regularly blocks IP addresses of VPN providers. This restricts viewer access to ensure that national broadcast partners and regional sports networks retain their exclusive access to air certain games.

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[[post-object type=”accordion” question=”How does the NBA determine if I’m within a blackout region?” answer=”

The NBA checks your IP address to determine your location and see if it falls within the team’s regional broadcast territory. If the IP maps to a zip code that falls inside the blackout radius, the NBA restricts your access to the game.

The process is slightly different for mobile devices. The League Pass app uses your smartphone’s GPS coordinates to determine your physical location. If the detected location resides in the local team’s broadcast region, the game is blacked out.

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[[post-object type=”accordion” question=”Can I watch NBA blacked-out games without a VPN?” answer=”

Yes, you can stream NBA blacked-out games without a VPN, but your options are limited. A legal workaround involves subscribing to a regional sports network or a national TV network like ESPN, TNT, or NBA TV. These networks own the broadcast rights in the region but often require a pricey subscription.

While some free VPNs may bypass regional restrictions, they come with speed and privacy issues. Therefore, we recommend using a paid VPN if you wish to circumvent local and national NBA blackouts. The small subscription fee is worthwhile for unlocking the full NBA season.

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[[post-object type=”accordion” question=”What is the difference between NBA League Pass and NBA TV?” answer=”

NBA League Pass is a live game streaming package that offers access to regular season games, apart from the blacked-out matchups. It also provides commercial-free access to documentaries, interviews, and an archive of previous games, including the blacked-out ones. 

The League Pass subscription is ideal for hardcore NBA fans who want to keep in touch with pro basketball action over the course of the NBA season. The subscription fee for the League Pass starts at $14.99/month with NBA TV included.

NBA TV, on the other hand, is a streaming network, similar to channels like ESPN and ABC. It offers a mix of game replays, analysis, highlights, and some live matchups throughout the season. Unlike NBA League Pass, it doesn’t focus much on live game coverage, but instead delivers complementary content and archival footage. NBA TV costs significantly less, with packages ranging from $6.99/month or $59.99 for a full season.

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[[post-object type=”accordion” question=”Why is my VPN not working with NBA League Pass?” answer=”

If you’re all set up but still can’t bypass NBA League Pass blackouts with a VPN, the following troubleshooting tips could help:

  • Connect to a different server location: Not all server locations can unlock NBA blackouts. If a certain server location can’t bypass restrictions, try testing different ones until you find one that works.
  • Use a different browser: Some sites don’t seem to work properly on a specific browser. Try using a different browser to see if it resolves the issue.
  • Clear your browser cache and cookies: Clearing your cache gives your browsers a fresh start which can mitigate technical glitches and loading issues.
  • Relaunch the VPN app: Make sure you’re using the latest version of the VPN app. If you’ve recently upgraded, try disconnecting and reconnecting to the service to clear out connection issues.
  • Try a different VPN: Not all VPNs work with NBA League Pass. Use a top-rated VPN like ExpressVPN or Surfshark to maximize your streaming performance.

Experiment with various troubleshooting tips to identify the specific issue that is preventing you from bypassing NBA blackouts. With consistent testing, you can find a solution and enjoy seamless NBA coverage.

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[[post-object type=”accordion” question=”How do I cancel my NBA League Pass subscription?” answer=”

Canceling your NBA League Pass subscription is a quick process that involves the following few steps:

  • Go to the NBA website and click on “Manage your account” to access settings.
  • Log in to your account and select “Cancel subscription”.
  • Enter your password and tap the “Submit” button.
  • Click on “Yes, I want to cancel my subscription” to confirm your cancellation.
  • Click on the “Submit” button.

That’s it! You’ll be able to access your account until the end of the current billing period.

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