(From Sports Business Journal, October 21, 2013) The two biggest regional sports networks (RSN), Fox Sports Media Group and NBC Sports Group, are finalizing deals with the NBA to live stream local games for the first time for a US major sports league. Other RSNs are expected to pick up deals to live-stream in their home markets later this season. For six years now viewers have been restricted from watching their home teams on their computers and mobile devices. Now viewers will be able to login with their Fox Sports Net or Comcast Sports Net accounts to view these events.
While MLB and NHL have not yet made deals offering live streaming, Fox now has deals with sixteen NBA teams and Comcast has deals with eight. The deals will run through the 2015-16 season. This sort of deal has been tested in the past with a game in Portland that resulted in only 500 people paying the $3.99 to watch the game. Although it is not expected to be a big turnout immediately, in time it is expected to grow throughout the different sports leagues and broadcasting networks. Bill Koenig, Executive Vice President of Business Affairs and General Counsel for the NBA says, “It is not going to roll out at one time for everyone… My sense is that Fox, from a technical standpoint, is further along. The good news is that I think it will happen in a significant way this year.”
One of the main reasons that RSNs agreed to a deal was the ability to house games on their own sites and not that of the team sites or league sites. The teams will, however, be allowed to promote and link to the games on their own sites. Viewers who then proceed to the RSN site and are authenticated as current cable subscribers will be able to watch their home teams live at no additional costs.