The Los Angeles Clippers are the first NBA team to offer local fans a comprehensive series of options for watching games without the need for a cable subscription.
The team’s new digital offering, ClipperVision, fulfills a long-time goal of owner Steve Ballmer, and is a potential glimpse into the future of local sports media. The Clippers will offer six different streams, including two non-English variations, the traditional RSN telecast, an augmented reality stream, and even a Clippers version of the ManningCast, on which alumni like Paul Pierce and Baron Davis will provide commentary.
The service will launch in collaboration with the NBA and Sinclair Broadcast Group (Nasdaq: SBGI), which owns the team’s RSN partner. It will cost $199.99 for the season ($16.67 per month), and cover all 74 local in-market games, plus first-round playoff series.
“I have wanted to create a product like ClipperVision since the day I came to the Clippers,” Ballmer said in a statement. “Years of effort, hard work and development have led up to its launch.”
As more and more consumers ditch cable, traditional broadcasters, leagues and teams are all looking at how to adapt their media strategy to accommodate those fans. Earlier this year NESN, home to the Boston Red Sox and Boston Bruins, became the first RSN to launch a true over-the-top digital offering. Sinclair recently launched Bally Sports+, its own digital service, where fans across their 20-plus RSNs can buy digital packages to watch their local teams.
That service includes Bally Sports SoCal, which carries games from the Clippers and the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks. Bally Sports+ costs $190 per year, or $19 per month. For $30 per month total, fans can also add Los Angeles Kings games via Bally Sports West.
The new Clippers offering includes the standard television broadcast, plus five other unique options. The six streams are:
- CourtVision: augmented reality stream with real-time stats integrated into broadcast
- Mascot Mode: broadcasts that features animations, special effects
- BallerVision: live commentary from Clippers alumni and other personalities
- Spanish-language stream
- Korean-language stream
- Traditional TV telecast
The idea behind ClipperVision has been part of Ballmer’s vision since he purchased the team in 2014 for $2 billion. Shortly into his time as owner, he saw the statistical overlays that the Clippers coaching staff used for scouting and player evaluation and asked if there was a way to let fans view games in a similar way. That led to CourtVision, one of the six streams available in this new offering.
The new service is part of a wider shift in media strategy for the NBA team, which is trying to expand access to its game broadcasts, regardless of how consumers prefer to consume them. Two weeks ago the Clippers signed a new multiyear deal with Sinclair, which will see 63 of those 74 local games broadcast on Bally Sports SoCal. The other 11 games will air on broadcast TV via KTLA, the local CW affiliate.
With assistance from Jacob Feldman.
(This story has updated the headline.)