SBJ/April 16 - 22, 2007/This Weeks News

NBA TV’s VOD hits high; league seeks more deals

NBA TV is finding success with Comcast’s video-on-demand platform, reporting across-the-board increases in views this year, including its highest-ever number of “views” in February.

But the league-backed TV outlet still is trying to find a financial model to bring in revenue from the platform. The NBA TV’s VOD offerings are available at no extra cost only to Comcast’s digital cable subscribers. League executives say they are actively talking with other cable operators about completing similar deals.

By comparison, NFL Network has struck up to 80 VOD deals with cable and telephone operators, including agreements with Comcast, Cox, Insight, Bresnan and Verizon. NFL Network also offers its VOD content to digital subscribers at no extra charge, and it is usually among the most popular programs on VOD, especially in-season.

“We’re very happy with the performance and content we have going out,” said Steve Herbst, NBA TV’s senior vice president and general manager. “It’s a great vehicle for people to get a feel for our programming in a VOD environment.”

While the league’s all-star programming helped pad the statistics during February, regular NBA programming, including highlights of the previous night’s matchups and condensed games, proved the most popular. NBA TV’s VOD offerings do not include full-length games. Rather, the network has found success with programming made specifically for the VOD environment, such as the top 10 plays of the night.

During NBA All-Star Week, programs that showed the best slam dunks, top all-star moments and highlights of previous All-Star Games were the most popular.

Because its content is free to Comcast’s digital subscribers, the league does not pick up revenue from the number of orders, which are setting records this season.

Now in its third season on Comcast’s VOD platform, NBA TV VOD broke the 1 million views barrier for the first time in February, logging 1,021,476 orders during the month. A view is counted each time a subscriber clicks on a VOD program from NBA TV.

Not surprisingly, the league’s VOD programming has become more popular as the season has progressed. VOD views saw an increase of 40 percent in December compared with November; 36 percent in January over December; and 33 percent in February over January.

February’s orders marked a 53 percent increase from the previous year, and an 84 percent jump from 2005, the first year NBA TV made its programming available on VOD.

The NBA reaps some revenue from VOD through advertising, which league executives say is sold across its digital platform, including broadband and wireless. Some advertisers on NBA TV also are included in the VOD environment.

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