Less than one month before the 2003-04 season opens, the National Basketball
Association's NBA TV digital service has secured its first cable affiliate
Cablevision Systems Corp., Cox Communications Inc. and Time Warner Cable will
offer the 24-hour channel beginning next month, but all three MSOs will place
the service on digital tiers or in their most costly all-in-one packages,
network officials said.
Launched as a digital service last January after three years as a barker
service for the "NBA League Pass" pay-per-view package, NBA TV had been unable
to secure cable distribution.
Direct-broadcast-satellite providers DirecTV Inc. and EchoStar Communications
Corp. carry the service, which will offer 96 live NBA games, nearly one-half of
them shown in high-definition format.
Terms were not disclosed. Sources said the league got close to the
25-cent-per-subscriber fee it initially pitched to operators last year.
NBA TV president Ed Desser would not reveal specific subscriber projections
for the network’s Oct. 30 launch, but he said the league is pleased.
"The three MSOs together represent 22 million subscribers," Desser said.
"This will be a rollout that takes place over several years."
Along with live games, NBA TV will air nightly updates and highlights of
games during the season, as well as vintage games and related programming.
Desser said the network will also debut several new shows beginning next
month, including a reality miniseries focused on the Denver Nuggets’ preseason
training camp. Staying within the reality genre, NBA TV will bow in November
NBA Makeover, in which current NBA players, league veterans and
street-ball legends remake their basketball skills, wardrobe, style and
attitude, Desser said.
Also debuting on the channel is a weekly magazine show that features
international players and highlights a foreign game of the week
For more details on how the three MSOs plan to deploy the network, check out
Tom Umstead’s story on page 6 of Monday’s issue of Multichannel