Media days are over, training camps have finally started, and there are only 27 shopping days left until the Bulls and Heat tip off the 2013-14 NBA season on TNT. Speaking of shopping, your first purchase of the brand new season might be the ultimate NBA junkie product: League Pass. If you’ve been afraid to pull the trigger in years past, now is the perfect time to dive in — for two reasons (well, three, I guess):
1. The talent spread across the league is at its highest point in about two decades. There are exciting players, rising superstars, up-and-coming teams, etc. on almost every night. On a perfect night, you can fire up four games at once, with Kyrie Irving on one screen, John Wall on another, Damian Lillard on a third, and Anthony Davis rounding out the quartet. And those are just the young guys, on young teams. It’s basketball overload.
NBA LEAGUE PASS will mark its 20th season by providing fans with new features including direct access to a national game archive featuring all televised games on ABC, ESPN, TNT, and NBA TV throughout the regular season, and live feeds of both home and away team broadcasts for all games.
This might not seem like a big deal, but for League Pass veterans, this is music to everyone’s ears. We’ll address both:
Choice of Home and Away broadcasts: *cue angels singing on high* Hall-e-effin’-lu-jah!
No more tuning into a Celtics game and having to listen to Tom Heinsohn. No more Spurs broadcasts with Sean Elliott. No more Bulls broadcasts with Stacey King. No more Trailblazers broadcasts with, well, pretty much everyone on a Blazers broadcast. Other sports packages *coughMLBExtraInnings*cough* have offered a choice between home and away broadcasts, but the NBA continually refused to add the feature.
Now, I know what you’re thinking (and so does the NBA): If a game is blacked out in my area, can’t I just tune in to the away team’s broadcast? The NBA is (for once) one step ahead of you. You can’t tune into either broadcast if one is carried in your market. In other words, if you live in Chicago, and the Bulls are playing the Pelicans, you can’t tune in to the Pelicans’ broadcast. You’ll have to plop down in front of a television just like everybody else.
National Game Archive: This is a much-welcomed feature that went through a trial run during the playoffs. Remember all those tough Miami-Indiana Eastern Conference Finals games? They were up on League Pass within hours for full, unedited playback. Now, that feature has extended to the regular season. Normally, TNT Thursday games will be replayed either in the middle of the following day on NBATV, or on a weekend when you’re not sitting in front of a TV. In ESPN/ABC’s case, ESPN will air an edited late night replay, and then the game will vanish forever — unless it’s a Finals game, then you can re-watch those all summer on NBATV while you wait for the new season to start
Nationally televised games are still blacked out live on League Pass. But with the full archive, you can watch them at your leisure, whenever you want, and wherever you want.
So, where do I go from here?
Now that you have all this brand new information available, what League Pass option is best for you? Well, there’s Television/Broadband/Mobile (all 30 teams), standalone Broadband (all 30 teams), Choice (choose five teams, broadband only), and Mobile (all 30 teams, games playable through iPod or Android app).
The full package (TV, broadband, mobile) and standalone Broadband are available for a one-time early bird fee of $189, or five monthly payments of $42.99. The Choice package is $129.99 (one-time fee) or five payments of $28.99. Mobile is a one-time fee of $49.99.
The only option without access to all teams is the Choice package, where you must choose your five teams wisely. In the interest of saving time, and essentially plagiarizing everything Sean Highkin at USA Today laid out recently (seriously, anything I write would essentially be a word-for-word regurgitation), I’m just going to direct you to his excellent breakdown on how to choose your five teams. The only thing I might add is that Minnesota and Portland are practically interchangeable (in my mind) as Northwest Division options.[NBA, USAToday]