Note: Chromecast support was added to the NBA Game Time app in November 2014. You can now view NBA games on your TV directly through Chromecast, simply by pressing the Chromecast icon at the top-right corner of the screen. Games will screen at the best possible quality allowable by your set-up.
The NBA Finals are coming up this week (Friday 11am in eastern Australia), and those of you that have a subscription to NBA League Pass and a Chromecast dongle attached to your TV might be wondering how to watch games using that setup (or maybe you were thinking of buying a Chromecast specifically for that task).
Since the NBA Game Time mobile app doesn’t support Chromecast, you won’t be able to ‘cast’ the games directly from your phone or tablet. Instead, you will have to use a laptop. But is it worth the trouble?
We tried streaming NBA games through Chromecast from a laptop during the Western Conference Finals, and our results were mixed. In order to stream the games to Chromecast, we had to download the Google Cast add-in for the Chrome Web browser, and then start streaming the games from within a browser tab. We then hit the little icon at the top-right of the browser to get the content of that Chrome tab onto the Chromecast.
Before we get to the results of the streaming, let us just say that your network setup needs to be fast — preferably armed with 802.11ac equipment — and able to operate on clear channels. We used a Billion BiPAC 8800AXL router for our tests, which is an 802.11ac router, and it was connected to a laptop with an Intel 7260, 802.11ac wireless adapter. This laptop is capable of transferring data using this router at close to 20 megabytes per second (MBps).
No other traffic was present on our network while we streamed the NBA games. Our network was split so that the Chromecast was running on the 2.4GHz band, and the laptop streaming the NBA games was on the 5GHz band using 802.11ac. The router was right next to the TV and the laptop was no further than 5m away from the router at all times.
Initially, this worked brilliantly. We were able to watch the games in good definition (1600Kbps) and with fluid motion. We estimate that this lasted about an hour before the picture started to stutter a little and eventually became too blocky to watch comfortably. When this happened, we had to disconnect to the Chromecast and then re-connect to it. The NBA stream continued playing smoothly on the laptop, it was just the Chromecast end that stuttered.
This made it frustrating to watch, especially since the stream got so bad we ended up missing a few plays. We played with the streaming quality to allow the NBA site to dictate the best quality, but it chose a quality so low that it just didn’t make sense to keep watching.
We’ll try a couple of other routers this week to see what sort of results we get, but for now, if you want to watch the NBA Finals through your Chromecast, we think you might end up experiencing some stuttering towards the end of games. We still recommend just hooking your laptop up to the TV directly using HDMI.
Have you had success streaming NBA League Pass through Chromecast? Let us know in the comments below.
Update (April 2015): Native Chromecast support is now present when streaming games from the NBA Game Time Web site through the Chrome Web browser on a desktop PC or laptop. Press the Chromecast icon that appears near the playback controls on the screen to invoke this. This will provide a smooth playback experience similar to the way the Chromecast performs when used with a mobile app.