NBA Mulling Online-Only Sub Package

Jan 23, 2006  •  Post A Comment

The NBA is fast breaking onto broadband, offering its out-of-market game package through its Web site NBA.com.

This season, live game broadcasts will be available online only to viewers who subscribe to the NBA League Pass package via a cable or satellite provider, but NBA executives are considering offering broadband-only subscriptions in the future.

The move comes on the heels of the league’s deal with Google, which makes NBA games available online on-demand for $3.95 each, 24 hours after they’ve been played.

“Sports and technology, it’s exploding,” said Gregg Winik, executive VP and executive producer of NBA Entertainment. “Whether it be the Google deal we did two weeks ago or this deal, we feel it’s important to get into these businesses and understand it and gauge the viewer and fan experience.”

Mr. Winik said putting the games on broadband this season was discussed with the NBA cable and satellite partners. “Everybody sees this as great value-added for our collective customers, and everybody’s excited about it,” he said.

NBA League Pass subscribers won’t be charged extra for the service but will have to go through a registration and authentication process to gain access to the games online. The broadband feed won’t generate any extra revenue for the league.

“We’re doing a balancing act of national rights holders, local rights holders and League Pass rights holders,” Mr. Winik said. “We just want to dabble in this for this year and see what we learn.”

The deal could benefit cable operators by persuading more subscribers to buy cable modems to take advantage of the increasing amount of programming available over broadband.

“This is not replacing the TV experience. We know that full well,” Mr. Winik said. But there may be times when a big fan might want to watch two games at once, watch at a Starbucks or McDonald’s or on a dinner break from work.

“If you log on to the Internet and your device receives video, you’ll be able to keep track of your favorite team from across the country,” he said.

NBA League Pass Broadband will carry webcasts of up to 40 NBA regular-season games per week.