Basketball's Portland Trail Blazers, one of the last professional sports teams to offer pay-per-view regular-season games, has reached an agreement with AT&T Broadband to distribute its home games on basic cable starting this season.
The deal ends a nearly two-decades-long PPV arrangement that yielded respectable and often very strong buy-rates. Representatives from both sides, however, said basic-cable distribution of the games would provide wider distribution for the National Basketball Association team's games and more value to AT & T's basic cable package.
AT&T, which serves 400,000 subscribers in the Portland area, will distribute 25 Blazers home games via a local access channel, said regional director of marketing Brad Nosler. Blazer-Cable broadcasts will include live half-hour pre-game and post-game shows, with the games replayed in their entirety later the same night.
Nosler said the decision to yield PPV revenue in favor of broader distribution through basic cable was a mutual one between AT&T and the Trailblazers. The team had been offering its home games exclusively on PPV since 1983.
"We are thrilled to be able to reach more fans and give them access to more TV games," Blazers senior vice president of marketing operations Harry Hutt said in a prepared statement. "Our business operation for some time has been trying to make our games more accessible to our fans.and this move to basic cable will greatly widen our accessibility in the broadcast area."
During its years on PPV, the Blazers had enjoyed double-digit buy rates during successful playoff runs.
Though Nosler would not provide specific buy-rate or revenue figures, he said the MSO enjoyed strong performances from last year's PPV package. The Trail Blazers advanced to the Western Conference finals before losing to eventual NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers.
"The PPV performance was always tied to the performance of the team," Nosler said.
He added that the MSO's launch of digital cable and increased PPV channels will offset the loss of revenue from Blazers games.