The NBA is close to finalizing deals with Fox Sports Media Group and NBC Sports Group to stream games online according to the Memphis Business Journal on Oct. 21.The league is also working on deals with Root Sports, MSG, Time Warner Cable Sports and Altitude Sports and Entertainment that could be announced later this season.
The agreements would break a six-year logjam that prevented viewers from watching their hometown teams on their computers or handsets locally.
Individual teams will be able to market their own games through the deal. Fox has deals with 16 NBA teams while Comcast has deals with eight teams.
“It is not going to roll out at one time for everyone,” said Bill Koenig, executive vice president of business affairs and general counsel for the NBA. “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.”
The deal is expected to run through the 2015-16 season, which is also the final year of the NBA’s existing television deals.
To make this happen, the NBA backed off asking the regional sports networks for extra cash per game to be allowed to stream it.
Fox will make its games available to distributors with whom it has cut TV Everywhere deals, including Comcast, AT&T U-verse and Suddenlink, via its Fox Sports Go video player. Distributors like DirecTV, Time Warner Cable and Dish Network haven’t cut TV Everywhere deals with Fox to carry these games yet.
Similarly, NBC Sports Group will make its games available to both distributors and its RSNs, as well.
Games will not be housed on team sites or league sites, a key factor in getting the RSNs to agree to a deal. Originally, teams wanted to provide the games on their sites. Sources said Comcast, in particular, balked at giving teams access to authenticated subscriber information.
Team sites will be able to promote and link to the games. Those links will take users to the RSN’s page or the Fox Sports Go app, where the viewers will be authenticated as current cable subscribers and will be able to watch the games at no extra cost.