« More articles in Uncategorized   |   Go Home

The NBA is taking an entirely different approach to streaming games online:

The NBA is poised to become the first major U.S. sports league to stream live games in local markets, an aggressive offering that will set up a showdown between cable operators and regional sports networks.

The move marks the latest evolution in digital rights and adds fuel to one of the most contentious issues in local sports media as teams look to broaden their reach while operators look to protect the rights to their most expensive programming.

The NBA has authorized its teams to launch three distinct digital services by the start of the 2008-09 season in late October: video streaming, interactive TV and video-on-demand.

Obviously, this is very different than MLB.tv, where users can only watch out-of-market games, and local games are blacked out.

Here’s the issue, and it’s a point that I’ve heard Bob Bowman make several times: people will almost always choose to watch something on the largest screen possible. It’s why people still pay $10 to go to the movies, when most major releases can be downloaded via bittorrent. And it’s why most analysts now believe that NBC’s online streaming of the Olympics has actually increased television ratings, instead of cannibalizing them.

So good for the NBA, who have been very slow to get on this bandwagon. I’ll be curious to see if the service is free (which it should be; I’m not sure how many people would pay a subscription fee to watch games online that are easily available on television). But regardless, it’s a positive step for the league.

Feedback? Write a comment, or e-mail the author at shawn(AT)squawkingbaseball.com

No Existing Comments

Add New Comment