If you live in San Francisco and want to watch Stephen Curry and company rain down threes, you couldn’t just stream it to your laptop or phone. You could get out of market streams — buy league pass broadband and you could stream the Knicks — but not the team in your market.
That is about to change.
The Sports Business Journal is reporting that the NBA is near a deal to allow live streaming of games in market.
The league is finalizing TV Everywhere deals with Fox Sports Media Group and NBC Sports Group, the country’s two biggest owners of regional sports networks. Other RSNs, such as Root Sports, MSG, Time Warner Cable Sports, and Altitude Sports and Entertainment, are expected to offer live in-market streaming later this season….
Now, the financial viability of live local streams will be tested, starting soon after the NBA opens its season later this month. The deals will allow people who subscribe to a distributor that carries Fox Sports Net or Comcast SportsNet to log in and watch their local teams’ games via broadband or mobile.
Just to be on the up-and-up, this is an NBCSports.com blog and is part of the same NBC Sports Group as is being discussed here.
The NBA is the only major sports league doing this — the MLB and NHL do not allow streaming in market, and the NFL doesn’t much like your streams period.
To make this happen, the NBA backed off asking the regional sports networks for extra cash per game to be allowed to stream it. The NBA also backed off wanting those streams on team sites — the local networks still wanted to control where you watched. Teams can promote and link to the stream.
Live streams can be a revenue stream, but not necessarily as lucrative a one as television broadcasts, where you have to pay for the channel and they can sell ads into it. We’ll see how this works financially. You are going to have to subscribe to your local cable provider, or AT&T/Verizon, etc. (as happens with other streaming services) but if you have one of those you can watch the game on your favorite device.
To me this is smart — the NBA’s younger demographic is less likely to be planted in front of a TV to watch a game. Let them stream it on their phones and you get more people watching the product. That seems smart to me.