The NBA introduced its streaming options for the 2018-2019 season and for the first time, the league will offer fans the opportunity to purchase the final 12 minutes of an (out-of-market) league broadcast on an ala carte basis (for $1.99); the partial-game League Pass, joins the NBA’s premium ($250/season, $39.99/mo.), traditional ($200/season), individual team ($120/season) and single game ($6.99) subscription plans. Technology limitations currently prevent the introduction of additional partial-game plans, but expect the ability to pick up a game broadcast at the start of the 2nd quarter (or at halftime) by December; the option to buy blocks of game time (think: 10 minutes) will follow. Fans will have the choice to buy League Pass games through B/R Live (T), NBA.com or the NBA app.
Howie Long-Short: The NBA was experimenting with micro payments back in March (on an invitation-only basis), so this announcement was long anticipated; in fact Adam Silver first discussed fan interest in paying “a set price for five minutes as opposed to what they would pay for two hours” at CES in January 2016.
League Pass has long appealed to the hardcore NBA fan, the fan with a favorite team residing outside of his/her home market and the sports bettor (or DFS player), but the league has never been able to get the casual sports fan to buy into its streaming offerings. The 3 demographics League Pass has always appealed to will continue to want access to games in their entirety, so the introduction of partial-game League Pass won’t cannibalize the league’s existing subscription base; instead it becomes a newfound revenue stream, with the plan’s target demo not currently spending on league broadcasts (beyond their local RSN to access home team games). If any plan is going to eat away at League Pass profits, it’s going to be the team plan; the demo currently subscribing because his/her team is outside of their home market no longer needs to pay the additional $100+.
The partial-game League Pass is perfect for the millennial sports fan. While they may not be willing to watch a complete game, their interest in the most exciting parts (think: end of game situations) remains unchanged from previous generations. B/R is particularly strong delivering push notifications to the millennial sports fan and the ease in which a smartphone user can make the nominal in-app purchase makes me think the fees collected from micro transactions are (lucrative) low hanging fruit for league owners; expect every other sports league to follow the NBA’s lead and introduce their own version of partial-game League Pass.
Fan Marino: While NBA fans across the country can watch every out-of-market game (sans commercials) for $39.99/mo., hoops junkies in San Antonio (with a smartphone) can now ATTEND every Spurs home game this season for just $4.51 more ($44.50/mo.). The new SpurScription plan entitles the holder to a SRO pass for each of the team’s 41 home games, though the buyer has the option to upgrade their seat location for an additional fee. Considering the get-in price to see a single game against the Lakers ($87 – 10.27), Warriors ($62 – 11.18), Timberwolves ($60 – 12.21) or Raptors ($74 – 1.3.19) costs more than a full month of the plan, that’s a hell of a deal.
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