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Volume 22 No. 11
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Fans will find the game any way they want

Whether it’s through livestreaming or traditional TV, interactivity and personalization are the future.
Digital media outlets like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube could join the league’s traditional media partners.
Photo: getty images

“Personalization is the key,” said the NBA’s Bill Koenig in describing the viewing experience of the future. “We want to provide our fans with the ability to watch the game the way they want, whether it’s … full of enhancements or watching traditional telecasts. We have learned that it’s important to provide a shared experience. People will watch more if they are interacting with the telecast itself.”

 

The NBA’s expected customized streams and telecasts in 2028 will give viewers the option to watch isolated coverage of their favorite player, offer real-time fantasy team stats and provide the opportunity to share a customized broadcasts with friends as each watch and comment on the game remotely.

Steve Ballmer’s Los Angeles Clippers this upcoming season will test customized technology through Second Spectrum, of which the team owner is an investor.

The technology uses high-definition cameras inside the arenas that allow for customized streaming at home. The stream would be available through an OTT service, which in the Clippers’ case will be Fox Sports Go.

“This is where we are going,” Ballmer said. “The software keeps getting better and better.”

Ballmer and Koenig, president of global content and media distribution for the NBA, presented emerging TV technology to owners at the recent board of governors meeting as the league plans for the next generation of NBA broadcasts.

Customized audio and camera angles will be offered and so will the option of viewers paying a premium to watch games commercial free. Instead of seeing a commercial, viewers could watch the in-arena entertainment during breaks in the game. 

Expect the league’s 2028 media deal to include an internet agreement along with a broadcast deal as the league looks to change the traditional linear viewing format.

The NBA is now testing interactive viewership telecasts in the G League with Twitch, the livestreaming video platform owned by Amazon, and it is likely to implement a similar approach in a new media deal.

“Traditional TV will still be around but it will be enhanced by a streaming experience,” Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins said. “You can create your own broadcast experience on a streaming service where you are providing the commentary from your perspective.”

The structure of the next generation of league TV deals also could shift to likely include digital and social media outlets as the distribution of NBA content widens. 

“We have a very strong relationships with our current partners [ESPN/ABC and Turner] and have every reason to grow those relationships,” Koenig said. “At the same time, we have very meaningful  relationships with a lot of the new digital and social media distribution outlets whether its Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Amazon. We’ve done a lot with each and we will be doing even more this season.”

“We think we will have choices,” Koenig said. “We have strong relationships with our current partners [ESPN/ABC and Turner] and have every reason to grow those relationships. At the same time, we have very meaningful relationships with a lot of new digital and social media outlets, and we will be doing more.”