Will Fans Pay Up for Shortened NBA Season?


Distributors of the “NBA League Pass”
out-of-market package of live games say they’re confident
consumers will embrace the league despite the shortened

Operators and satellite distributors have begun getting
the word out to consumers about the package, which will
offer up to 40 live games a week beginning Dec. 26 — the
day after the league tips off its truncated 66-game season.
The National Basketball Association lost more than
a month of regular- season games due to the league’s 146-
day lockout.

The league will offer cable, satellite and phone company
subscribers a two-week preview of the package —
which will retail at a suggested price of $169 — beginning
Dec. 26 and running through Jan. 8.

For the first time NBA League Pass will include mobile
access to live games — last year the mobile package was an
additional $39 on top of the $189 NBA League Pass package
— along with broadband access to the games, according
to NBA Digital general manager Christina Miller.

“Across the board, it’s about wall-to-wall coverage, and
that portfolio feeding every
desire of the NBA fan
across the spectrum, from
casual to hard core,” Miller
told Multichannel News.
“We should be able to deliver
NBA coverage like
no other, so if that means
watching all the games no
matter where you are in
your house, on the go, any
screen available we should
be able to provide that. It’s
the true meaning of basketball
anywhere, anytime.”

In Demand senior vice
president of programming
and business development
Mark Boccardi said the
content aggregator is confident the package will appeal
to NBA fans anxious to
see their favorite players return
to the hardwood. “One
of the things the league has
going is its 66-game season that’s still pretty robust,”
Boccardi said. “Starting on Christmas with all of those
big games will also provide a real public relations push
[ahead of the package launch].”

DirecTV plans to run traditional cross-channel spots
and send email alerts to subscribers regarding NBA
League Pass. “We’re looking forward to providing fans
with NBA basketball,” said Alex Kaplan, senior director
of marketing for the satellite company.

Miller said she’s confident that NBA fans will purchase
the NBA League Pass at the same levels as last year, although
she would not disclose specific numbers.

“I think that fans are excited to have the NBA back —
the interest is still there, and the NBA has a strong brand,”
she said. “The fans will still want to make sure that they
can see their games anywhere and everywhere, so I think
that, actually, people consume media today.”

With regard to the NBA TV digital basic network,
Miller said the service will air 96 live games during the
2011-12 season. The network will return its “Fan Night”
offering on Tuesdays — in which fans can choose which
game they watch on the channel — as well as live games
on Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights.