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How the NBA and YouTube TV Swindled Me Out of $50

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After obsessively checking the interwebs for weeks to see when NBA League Pass would be available on YouTube TV, I decided to take matters into my own hands yesterday. I contacted YouTube TV customer support to get an update.

I started a chat session and the agent promptly told me that she had no information regarding League Pass being added to YouTube TV. I was disappointed but not dismayed because customer service folks often don’t know what the heck is going on for real.

This morning I Goggled “YouTube TV and NBA League Pass” as I usually do and saw the following.

I promptly logged on to YouTube TV and went into settings and saw two options for subscribing, one for an annual subscription at $249 and a monthly option for $40.

That price is for the Premium League Pass subscription which is 25% more that the regular subscription. The only difference is that you don’t have to watch the commercials. You get the in-arena stream during halftime and breaks in the action. I was hoping to subscribe at the $200 level like I did last year, but unfortunately that wasn’t an option.

So I was briefly on the horns of a dilemma. My regular NBA League Pass subscription was supposed to auto-renew on iTunes on September 18th. I turned off the renewal option a week or so before in anticipation of YouTube TV offering it.

I had to decide either to pay 25% more for something that in my mind wasn’t really worth it and I didn’t even want, in order to watch the games on YouTube TV, or go back and subscribe through iTunes or directly with NBA.com at the lower price.

I cut the cord about four years ago and have tried several of the other streaming services including Sling TV, Playstation Vue and DirecTV Now. I found YouTube TV to be the best value proposition, but it was lacking in the NBA game department. When I first signed up the only NBA games I could watch were those on ESPN and ABC. Last year during the season they added TNT and NBA TV so all that was missing was League Pass and now it was there in front of me just one-click away.

I just needed to check one thing before I was willing to flush $50 down the virtual toilet. I wanted to make sure that if I subscribed through YouTube TV that I would still be able to login to NBA.com and use the apps (Apple TV, iOS, Android, etc.) to watch the games as well.

I couldn’t find a definitive answer on the web so once again I initiated a chat session with YouTube TV customer service. I asked and was told that I would not have access to the NBA app and that the subscription would only work on YouTube TV. Just like before, I didn’t believe her, but I wasn’t going to click the subscribe button on blind faith. So I went to NBA.com and found their customer support number. I called and within 2 minutes I got my answer, “Absolutely, all you have to do is sign in with your YouTube TV credentials on the site and in the app.”

I believe that I clicked and subscribed before I even said thank you and hung up the phone.

So why was I willing to pay a 25% premium to watch the games on YouTube TV?

1) I love YouTube TV. I can watch it on the app on my LG Smart TV, in a browser on any of my computers and also on the app on my phone. I can also watch it handsfree by asking Google Assistant to play a particular station or program on any of my TV’s

2) The interface on YouTube TV is excellent. It’s much better than the NBA app on Apple TV, which is what I used in years past. Plus, now I won’t have to jump in and out of the NBA app to switch between NBA games and regular television.

3) I am using all six invitations for family members to share my YouTube TV subscription – another great perk of the service. However, only three simultaneous streams are allowed at any time. My wife, three daughters (one married and two away at college) and son (living abroad with a VPN) are all NBA junkies, so you can imagine that there will be a race to the web to be one of the coveted three to lock in a game stream. So I needed more seats for League Pass for the overflow which access to the app affords us.

Our family team is the Boston Celtics. My father is a Celtics fan and he raised me to be one as well. When I was in middle school he gave me a Black History Month poster from the Celtics that showed all the milestones that the team had in Black History – the first black player drafted (Chuck Cooper), the first black coach (Bill Russell), etc. He told me to not allow people to persuade me into thinking that the Celtics were a racist organization. The proof was in the poster. It said otherwise.

So I did for my kids what my father did for me.

To show you just how basketball crazed we are, I’ve rigged up an IFTTT recipe that turns on the Philips Hue lights in our apartment and changes the color to green 15 minutes before any Celtic game (triggered through a Celtic Google Calendar).

That way we won’t forget to tune in.

Basketball season is two-weeks away. I can’t wait. I finally have all my games available in one place, ESPN, ABC, TNT, Fox Sports Net (regional blacked out games) and NBA League Pass. If it took me $50 extra bucks to accomplish it, then so be it!

About the author

Andre Kimo Stone Guess
Andre Kimo Stone Guess

Andre Kimo Stone Guess is a writer and cultural critic from the Smoketown neighborhood in Louisville, Kentucky. He was VP and Producer for Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York and CEO of the August Wilson Center for African American Culture in Pittsburgh. He now runs GuessWorks, Inc. with his wife Cheryl.

Educated Guesses A Blog Full of Guesses