In an effort to win back basketball, DirecTV Inc. said it
would offer a significant discount on its National Basketball Association out-of-market
The direct-broadcast satellite service will also offer a
free one-week preview of the abbreviated, 40-game-per-week package, which it hopes will at
least restore package buys to pre-lockout levels.
"NBA League Pass" will run from this month
through May, and it will include NBA games that are not available in subscribers' local
markets. Due to the six-month league lockout, DirecTV and the league knocked $80 off the
package's usual $159 price tag, said Jayne Hancock, director of sports marketing for
"We have a good relationship with the NBA, and they're
aggressively working toward having a successful season," Hancock said, although she
would not reveal specific buy-rate numbers. "We think that the price is
consumer-friendly and fair, given the significant number of games in the package."
The free package preview will run through Feb. 12. Any
subscriber purchasing the package will receive it at a discounted price of $69, said Ann
Hinegardner, director and group manager of programming development for NBA Entertainment.
"The free preview gives fans and DirecTV subscribers
the opportunity to see what the programming is like for a week, which hopefully will lead
to a purchase," Hinegardner said.
Finally, the league sent past NBA League Pass subscribers a
letter welcoming them back to the game and letting them know about the new pricing
structure. Both the league and DirecTV are hopeful that the added incentives will help to
boost package buys.
"I don't think that we know yet," Hinegardner
said. "But the fact that we have a good price and that we're starting the season with
a one-week preview should help [buys]."
DirecTV also did not have to offer many partial rebates to
early buyers of NBA League Pass.
"Most people were patient, and they waited to see when
the lockout would be resolved," Hancock said.
DirecTV said it would employ the traditional marketing
tactics that it usually employs for all of its out-of-market packages, Hinegardner said.
"We're focusing more on upgrading the package to our
universe, given the late start of the season," she said.
While the league has worked with DirecTV on the
out-of-market package, it has no immediate plans to offer the package to cable operators.
The NBA made some inquires to a number of operators this past fall about carrying the
package, but it was unable to reach an agreement.
"We're not ruling it out, but we have not gone forward
with any plans [for cable]," Hinegardner said.