The National Basketball Association will tip off its 2013- 14 season this week. About a month later, some regional sports networks that carry professional basketball games are expected to join Time Warner Cable’s pair of Los Angeles Lakers-centric services in presenting live, in-market streaming of NBA games.
While Comcast RSNs in Philadelphia and Chicago have tested streaming in the past, the NBA has removed a couple of impediments that have halted the process over the past half-decade. The league is now encouraging its teams, their RSNs and distributors to live-stream games within the networks’ territories on a TV Everywhere basis, making the contests available on a variety devices to authenticated video subscribers.
“The NBA has been a supporter of technology for a long time,” said Bill Koenig, executive vice president of business affairs and general counsel for the NBA. “With the push toward authentication by networks and distributors, we are encouraging our teams and regional sports networks to open up the platforms. We believe this will add value for our fans, as well as our clubs, the RSNs and distributors.”
To facilitate this push, the NBA has dropped a $3,500 rights fee it had charged per game, and will allow the RSNs to house video players on their sites.
Koenig said he anticipates many RSNs and clubs will jump into the TVE arena at various points over the course of the season.
Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League have yet to cut TVE deals that allow for live in-market streaming. YES Network, home to the New York Yankees, offers authenticated in-market live streaming through deals with Cablevision, Time Warner Cable, Verizon FiOS and Blue Ridge Communications. However, subscribers must pay $29.99 for a full-season streaming subscription package, or $9.99 per month.
Which clubs and RSNs will get on board and when remains to be seen, but they will be following the lead set by the Lakers and Time Warner Cable Sports.
At the outset of last season, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks tipped off with the streaming service, while DirecTV, Cox Communications and Hawaiian Telecom came on board over the course of the 2012-13 campaign. Today (Oct. 28), AT&T U-verse subscribers will gain TV Everywhere access to the RSNs on www.twcsportsnet.com and www.twcdeportes.com (via the sites’ “Live” and “En Vivo” tabs, respectively) and on iOS and Android devices via the mobile apps “TWC SportsNet” and “TWC Deportes.” The apps are available in the iTunes store and on Google Play.
Mark Shuken, senior vice president and general manager of TWC Regional Sports Networks, said the apps have been downloaded almost 100,000 times, and last season’s game streams averaged 12,000 viewers, a total that grew over the course of the season as the service became accessible to more of the networks’ affiliate customers and TVE promotion and awareness increased.
The NBA said the regional streaming rights will be in place through the conclusion of the 2015-16 season, synching up with its national rights deals. ESPN has been making its NBA games available through ESPN Watch, while TNT will offer live streaming of games for the first time this season. (For more on NBA streaming, see Q&A.)
As the NBA tips off its 2013- 14 season, it is spurring live in-market streaming of games via widespread adoption of TV Everywhere.