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Some NBA Playoff games to simulcast with regional sports networks

The confusing world of sports rights means Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors fans won't be able to watch games on TNT or ESPN.

The confusing world of sports rights means Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors fans won't be able to watch games on TNT or ESPN.

(Stock image via Pexels, Graphic by The Desk)

If you’re a professional basketball fan in Northern California, right now is a very exciting time, with the Golden State Warriors of San Francisco and the Sacramento Kings squaring off in the first round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs.

The first game between the Golden State Warriors and the Sacramento Kings was broadcast this past Saturday to a national audience on ABC — marking one of the rare times a Sacramento Kings game has been made available on network television from the still-relatively new Golden 1 Center in Downtown Sacramento, and the only game in the opening round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs to air on the broadcast network that day.

Game 2 of the 2023 Western First Round of the NBA Playoffs between the Golden State Warriors and the Sacramento Kings is scheduled to start at 7 p.m., and most basketball fans will be able to watch the game live on TNT, which is sharing broadcast rights to the 2023 NBA Playoffs with ESPN, ABC and NBA TV.

But for fans in Northern California, the game will simulcast on a regional sports network via cable and DirecTV — which means the game will be blacked out on TNT, and unavailable to those who only receive the network and not their local sports channel.

Here’s why this is happening…

Why can’t I watch the 2023 NBA Playoffs with the Sacramento Kings on TNT?

Some games played in the Western First Round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs involving the Sacramento Kings will be available to national television viewers on TNT and ESPN. But due to sports licensing rights, games played by the Sacramento Kings during some parts of the 2023 NBA Playoffs won’t be available on TNT or ESPN if you watch TV in the Sacramento area. Instead, those games will be exclusive to NBC Sports California, either on the main feed or a spillover channel (NBC Sports California Plus when NBC Sports is airing a game from the Oakland Athletics).

The bad news is, NBC Sports California is unavailable on some pay TV platforms, including Dish Network and the streaming service Sling TV, which means customers of those services won’t be able to watch the Sacramento Kings in the 2023 NBA Playoffs when the games are on TNT or ESPN.  The good news is, NBC Sports California is available on a number of streaming services, including Fubo (click or tap here for a free trial), YouTube TV (click or tap here for a free trial), DirecTV Stream (no free trial, prices vary) and Hulu with Live TV (no free trial, prices vary).

Why can’t I watch the 2023 NBA Playoffs with the Golden State Warriors on TNT?

Some games played in the Western First Round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs involving the Golden State Warriors will be available to national television viewers on TNT and ESPN. But due to sports licensing rights, games played by the Sacramento Kings during some parts of the 2023 NBA Playoffs won’t be available on TNT or ESPN if you watch TV in the San Francisco Bay Area. Instead, those games will be exclusive to NBC Sports Bay Area, either on the main feed or a spillover channel (NBC Sports Bay Area Plus when NBC Sports is airing a game from the San Francisco Giants).

The bad news is, NBC Sports California is unavailable on some pay TV platforms, including Dish Network and the streaming service Sling TV, which means customers of those services won’t be able to watch the Sacramento Kings in the 2023 NBA Playoffs when the games are on TNT or ESPN.  The good news is, NBC Sports California is available on a number of streaming services, including Fubo (click or tap here for a free trial), YouTube TV (click or tap here for a free trial), DirecTV Stream (no free trial, prices vary) and Hulu with Live TV (no free trial, prices vary).

Why can’t I watch the 2023 NBA Playoffs with the Sacramento Kings on ESPN?

Just like with TNT telecasts of the Sacramento Kings games played during the Western First Round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs, games aired on ESPN won’t be available to view on that channel if you watch TV in the Sacramento area. Instead, you’ll need to watch the games as they air on NBC Sports California, which is available on a number of streaming services, including Fubo (click or tap here for a free trial), YouTube TV (click or tap here for a free trial), DirecTV Stream (no free trial, prices vary) and Hulu with Live TV (no free trial, prices vary).

Why can’t I watch the 2023 NBA Playoffs with the Golden State Warriors on ESPN?

Just like with TNT telecasts of the Golden State Warriors games played during the Western First Round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs, games aired on ESPN won’t be available to view on that channel if you watch TV in the San Francisco Bay Area. Instead, you’ll need to watch the games as they air on NBC Sports Bay Area, which is available on a number of streaming services, including Fubo (click or tap here for a free trial), YouTube TV (click or tap here for a free trial), DirecTV Stream (no free trial, prices vary) and Hulu with Live TV (no free trial, prices vary).

What about Round 2 and Round 3 games during the NBA Playoffs?

The same blackout rules that apply during the Western First Round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs also apply during the Western Second Round of the NBA Playoffs: If nationally-televised games are available on TNT or ESPN, they will be blacked out in the local area. For fans of the Sacramento Kings, the games will be available on NBC Sports California and its spillover channel, NBC Sports California Plus when games are aired on TNT or ESPN. For fans of the Golden State Warriors, the games will be available on NBC Sports Bay Area or NBC Sports Bay Area Plus when games are aired on TNT or ESPN. (Any games played on ABC will be available nationwide without blackouts.)

Things are less complicated during the Western Third Round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs: All games are available exclusively on ESPN and ABC, with no localized blackouts. The NBA Finals is also easier to follow: All games are played on ABC, with no local blackouts.

How do I watch other games during the 2023 NBA Playoffs?

For the cheapest way to watch the 2023 NBA Playoffs without cable or satellite, click or tap here.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).