The popularity of basketball in Australia isn’t at the same level as some other sports. But if you’re a fan, you’re probably into NBA; the biggest league on the planet.
The problem with that is, we don’t get great coverage…
Sure Kayo Sports gives a few games a week through its ESPN licence agreement (250 regular season and Playoff games, plus the finals live and in full also on Foxtel and Fetch TV), but it’s far from comprehensive coverage. The answer is to grab yourself a mate pass on the NBA app.
We’re about 8 weeks into the 2023/2024 NBA Season and I’ve been using the app and league pass as my primary source for all things NBA.
NBA app features
‘Powered by Microsoft’, the NBA app can actually be a bit overwhelming at first glance with its feature-rich and busy interface. But once you set up your favourite team and players — which only takes minutes — it is easier to find what you’re looking for in the “for you” tab.
You’ll see highlight plays, game reels, team and player stats, and news and results. This is the easiest and most convenient way to get all the NBA news you want, and a pathway to delving further into the news about other teams and key players. More importantly, when you’re watching a game live is the real-time stats on the game including shooting percentages, shot attempts and if you’re reviewing a completed game; the all-important highlights!
Something very important to note for those who are invested in the Google ecosystem is that the NBA app has Chromecast support. So, in my time testing the app, I’ve cast games to my TV, my Nest Hub and my Pixel Tablet to enjoy in whatever room I happened to be in at the time.
That’s not the only streaming option, though; if you’ve got a streaming box, then you’re in luck with options to stream to — I believe — anything capable of receiving a stream from Android TV to Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and even consoles.
Daily use: Easy to use and navigate with a couple of annoying factors
I want to get the couple of things that annoyed me out of the way first, one I can control; the other is (in my eyes) a failure of the app. The controllable factor is the number of notifications you get from the app, in fact, there were so many I ended up outright turning notifications for the NBA app off. I may have missed something in the settings, but if the notifications were all relevant to the players and teams I’m interested in following, it wouldn’t be a problem. But some days, I’d get upwards of 35 notifications, I simply didn’t care about…
The other issue I have with a paid streaming service — Disclosure: I have been given a one-season pass for the NBA for the purpose of this review — is that the streaming quality is acceptable for small screens, but disappointingly low if you’re streaming to a large TV. In the current day and age, where even a significant portion of mobile devices are capable of at least 2k streaming, to only have 1080p is, to say the least, disappointing. I understand that there is potentially a significant bandwidth issue if you’ve got tens of thousands of viewers streaming simultaneously, but those who want the higher quality would likely be prepared to pay a little more for it.
As I mentioned, the streaming target options are plentiful and I used as many as I could in my testing. I found this to be an exceptionally good experience because you’re then able to watch the game stats on your mobile device while watching the game on a larger form factor screen.
Those factors aside, there’s so much to enjoy here if you’re a fan of the NBA. The stats appear in the app in near to real-time (accounting for human input requirements), and at the scale the NBA operates on, this is mind-blowing. The fact that they’ve managed to cater to everyone from the casual game watcher, to the hardcore fans who even know what colour underwear their favourite player has is exceptional in terms of the data capture and presentation.
Do I need another streaming service?
The short and obvious answer is no, I really don’t but the fact that the NBA app has made me want another one is impressive. With prices ranging from $19.99 per month, up to $29.99 per month (see here for a comparison table of the features) and significant discounts if you pay for a full season in advance; it’s easy to see how people get hooked in.
Justifying a streaming service is always a very personal decision as to whether you’ve got a genuine need, will use the service and perhaps most importantly; have the available budget. If you’re on the edge of any of these, I’d say give it a go for the free trial, and if you’re enjoying it, try for a month to see if you’re genuinely utilising the service or not.
There are some questions to ask yourself, but if you’re a basketball enthusiast who is on the move a bit and hates ads, I’d pretty confidently say you’ll find a way to justify the cost of the NBA league pass.
PR offered a single season "basic" pass for the purpose of this review.