Silver: NBA digital model needs a ‘simpler consumer experience’

Jersey ads, digital rights also discussed during one-on-one interview

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says the way that the NBA sells games on smartphones and tablets, and the way that fans consume them, is “pretty clunky,” and that he’d like to find ways to simplify the process.

“The existing combination of blackouts and multiple broadcasters makes it very difficult to present what would otherwise be a simpler consumer experience,” said Silver during a one-on-one interview at the 2014 IMG World Congress of Sports. “Nirvana would be that if someone was tweeting about a great game, and they say ‘tune in, LeBron has 25 points through the first quarter against Cleveland,’ that you just go ‘click’ and if you’re an authenticated subscriber, you can then get that game. Right now – less because of market considerations and more because of limitations in technology – the only way you can buy our out-of-market package is through an All-You-Can-Eat package of games. And that’s not optimal for a lot of consumers. Our hope is that working with our TV partners, including RSN partners, you can have one combined ecosystem.”

During the session, Silver hit on a variety of topics, including the league’s TV rights deals, tanking, jersey ads, expansion and ways fans consume the league digitally.

Here are a few quick hits:
On jersey ads: “I think it’s inevitable. There are so many programs because of TiVo where people are skipping all the commercials, it just creates that much more of an opportunity for our marketing partners to get closer to our fans and closer to our players. And it gives us an opportunity to have deeper integration when it comes to those forms of sponsorship. … I think it’s going to become more accepted and commonplace by U.S. fans. Most likely within five years.”

On managing NBA digital rights: “This is an area we should be partnering. We’re very happy with our current partnership with Turner.”

On the coming TV deal: “We have two years left on our national TV deal with Turner and ESPN/ABC. What we’ve said to our current partners is that if we can strike the right deals, we’re interested in renewing early. But it’s a great time to be out in the marketplace.”
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