When the NBA season tips off later this month, subscribers to Fox regional sports networks will be able to stream live in-market pro hoops games.
Now in the second year of a three-year pact with the NBA, which controls local-streaming rights, the programmer said that its RSNs will stream the 17 NBA clubs on their respective rosters through the Fox Sports Go platform. Most of the RSNs will begin executing their TVE plays when the season tips off later this month.
That roster includes the YES Network, the cable home to Brooklyn Nets contests, which plans to get in the local-streaming action sometime during the 2014-15 campaign.
Midway through last season, Fox Sports Net outlets experimented with local-market streaming on a limited basis via TV Everywhere agreements with AT&T, Suddenlink, WOW! and MidContinent Cable. The Fox RSNs that are home to Milwaukee Bucks, Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs, Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks streamed some of the games to authenticated subscribers.
Fox Sports officials said that if last season was one where the technology and picture quality were tested, the 2014-15 campaign will be a year of RSN TVE growth, relative to more distributors' subs gaining access to the simulcasts.
To that end, Fox Sports has inked TVE deals for its RSNs with Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications, Cox and Cablevision, and is said to be nearing a pact with telco Verizon FiOS.
However, the nation’s top three distributors remain on the RSN streaming sideline at this juncture – although Fox officials note digital distribution discussions continue along those lines with Comcast, DirecTV and Dish.
In the case of NBC Sports, sources indicate that the majority of the eight RSNs that hold NBA game rights are expected to enter the streaming ranks at some point during this season.
Should the Comcast SportsNet services enter this arena they will hold a significant home-court advantage: the nation’s largest distributor will offer the streamed games to its subscriber base.
Officials at NBC Sports Regional Networks, which also doesn't have TVE RSN pacts in place with the two satellite leaders, declined to comment on their streaming game plan.
Time Warner Cable’s SportsNet and Time Warner Cable Deportes have streamed Los Angeles Lakers games in market since the RSNs were established before the 2012-13 NBA season.
Given the relatively small number of distributors in play last year, Fox did not hail the availability of its NBA RSN streaming last season. This time around, though, on-air promotion and other messaging will let subscribers know they have other viewing options.
Although the broader move toward RSN viewing mobility is in keeping with the pay-TV industry’s overall TVE push, it will not result in any additional advertisers for the Fox camp this season.
As is the case with Fox’s NFL Sunday afternoon streaming, the RSNs will include “slates,” in lieu of spots, during the commercial pods of the NBA streamed simulcasts.