The league, which recently revamped its NBA.com website, is offering fans who purchase the NBA League Pass TV subscription a full season of live video webcasts for the first time.
Global deal with Lenovo
In addition, the league this morning will announce a new global partnership with Chinese personal computer manufacturer Lenovo. The company will become the official PC partner of the NBA, and the league will introduce a new statistic called the "Lenovo Stat." The stat will appear on NBA.com and will show the best two-, three- and five-player combinations for each team after every game. The stat is a takeoff on hockey's plus-minus statistic, which measures the team goal differential when a specific player is on the ice.
The new online services will include up to 40 live games a week on NBA.com. The service is an extension of the $179 NBA League Pass package, which fans can purchase either via cable or satellite to watch out-of-market games.
"We deliberately decided to make the online games available to the subscribers [rather than as a separate service]," said Steve Grimes, VP-interactive services for the NBA. "The thinking was we have a lucrative TV business and we have loyal fans, and we're not in the business of undercutting our partners or our fans. We positioned this as an increased value. You pay $179, but you might not necessarily be in front of your TV all the time, so let's make it available on your laptop. We take our partnerships and relationships very seriously. We weren't going to go to the cable and TV companies and say we're going to take it online."
No local games
Technology will be used to block access to local and national games to preserve the TV rights. For instance, a Cavaliers fan in Cleveland won't be able to watch LeBron James and the Cavs online. The NBA has national deals with Walt Disney Co.'s ABC and ESPN, as well as Time Warner's TNT.
Major League Baseball is the only other professional sports franchise to offer live games online.
The NBA will also offer a free, ad-supported service called NBA TV Broadband that will give fans the chance to see highlights, news conferences and player interviews.
"We're really putting a lot of emphasis on our on-demand broadband free product," Mr. Grimes said. "We will have a lot of advertisers presenting shows and such. We've really encouraged multiplatform buys. We're trying to take NBA TV and broadband and VOD and wrap it together. It would be unrealistic to say all of our partners are doing the multiplatform buy, but several are."
Other broadband content
NBA TV Broadband will also offer 30 NBA team channels with team-specific broadband content that will also be available through each team website.
Additionally, through a new partnership with NuSports and Sohu, NBA.com will re-launch NBA.com/china and NBA.com/taiwan. The new sites will provide fans with access to 87 webcasts of NBA games in Chinese, including live video webcasts of regular season and playoff contests, and complete game replays of select NBA games. In 1999, NBA.com was the first professional sports league in the U.S. to unveil a language-specific international section with NBA.com/japan.