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October 04, 2021

How to watch Sixers' preseason opener vs. Raptors

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Joel_embiid_12_Hornets_Sixers_Frese.jpg Kate Frese/for PhillyVoice

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid.

Is there a more dynamic duo than NBC Sports Philadelphia and ignoring Sixers preseason games? The Sixers make their 2021-22 debut on Monday night in Toronto, but continuing a pattern from recent years, the local braodcast partner will not pick up the game for fans in-market, so you're out of luck if you thought your cable package was enough to be able to watch a game.

This isn't the first time they've opted against sending a crew for a game with at least some intrigue. Philadelphia's first meeting with former No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz, a preseason tie with the Orlando Magic, was available to watch only through a janky replication of an in-arena stream. A 2017 meeting between Joel Embiid and Hassaan Whiteside in Kansas City — at that point considered a clash of the titans, and a game that was Embiid's first back from injury at the time — was slapped together on broadcast in such haphazard fashion that the camera focus and light exposure faded in and out mid-play, making an Embiid block of Whiteside look like an act of divine intervention.

This time out, there are basketball and semi-basketball reasons to want to tune in. Tyrese Maxey is expected to get a starting nod (or at least play significant minutes) and show what he's been working on in training camp, and the younger Sixers have plenty of developing talent to work into the mix. Even if you're not particularly interested in preseason basketball, this could have been an opportunity to hear new play-by-play announcer Kate Scott for the first time, an introductory session as she takes over for local legend Marc Zumoff on the call. But meeting Scott will wait until the home version of this game on Thursday.

Where does that leave Sixers fans who want to go through the trouble of watching the team on Monday night? There's good news and bad news. The absence of a local broadcast means you'll be able to watch the game on NBA League Pass (as well as Philadelphia's preseason finale against the Detroit Pistons) for the price of a monthly subscription, $17.99 for the right to watch two games. The NBA's director of broadcast scheduling relayed to PhillyVoice on Monday afternoon that there should be no League Pass blackout restrictions in Philadelphia for Monday's game. You're also welcome to spend the money for a season-long subscription to League Pass (prices vary depending on whether you want to follow one team or the whole league), but unless you're out-of-market, that's essentially throwing money away, as any Sixers game broadcast on NBC Sports during the regular season will be blacked out if you live and watch within the local broadcast region.

(There are also more, shall we say "dubious" methods to watch the team on Monday night without forking over the money to do so, but we here at PhillyVoice can neither condone nor present those services to you.)

If that sounds suboptimal, that's because it is. Philadelphians holding onto an Xfinity cable subscription are paying a $10.50 "regional sports fee" monthly to watch these exact games, and now have to shell out nearly double that to watch two preseason games of dubious quality and importance if they want to end a long day of work with a look at their hometown basketball team. While I'm sure someone with more information than me has reviewed the cost efficiency and determined that it's not worth the time and money spent, it's a strange choice in a market that tends to turn the TV on if there is a game to watch.

For a local sports fix, NBC Sports Philadelphia will broadcast the Flyers-Bruins game on NBC Sports Philadelphia on Monday night. On their alternative channel, NBC Sports Philadelphia Plus, local listings show an episode of "The Chef's Kitchen" in the 7:00 time slot.

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