Sports leagues are trying to adapt to a landscape where fewer and fewer people have cable TV, and less want to invest the time in watching an entire game that could end up being boring. The NBA believes it has the answer, and starting with the 2018-19 season, you’ll be able to buy portions of individual games through micro-transactions.
In a press release on Thursday, the NBA announced new offerings being added to its “NBA League Pass” program, which allows fans to watch out-of-market games over streaming services. These are being expanded to include the option for fans to buy single quarters of games, a revolutionary move that could change how fans consume live sports.
For current NBA League Pass subscribers all their viewing options will remain available, however fans can now pay $1.99 to watch from the conclusion of the third quarter until the end of the game. Adam Silver, NBA commissioner, explained the league’s decision.
“The new micro-transaction offerings on League Pass will deliver more customized experiences to meet the needs of NBA fans. Instead of waiting to watch highlights after a game, fans will be able to enjoy a portion of a game in real-time.”
Here’s how this would work in practice.
If you have the NBA app on your phone it’s already pushing alerts to you when games are close. Now, without a league pass subscription you will be able to swipe on that game, pay your $1.99 and immediately be a part of the conversation.
The FOMO of NBA Twitter when it comes to out of market games is real, and unless you’re a die-hard fan, it’s unlikely you’re spending the $199.99 a season to catch everything. So this gives you a way to catch everything people are talking about, without much barrier to entry.
In addition, the league is keeping its $6.99 single-game viewing option, but expanding it so fans can buy the remainder of the game on a sliding scale. The NBA is also exploring the possibility of selling games in cheaper 10-minute increments, which would allow for fans to pay a nominal fee to see the last few minutes of a game — for instance, but little is known about this pricing structure at this time.
Every sport should have an option like this.
Whenever a new feature is rolled out it comes with an expectation that something is being taken away. However, the NBA is keeping everything fans already liked, but adding options for people to consume their games how they want.
The NFL has its own highlight-esque offering in the NFL Red Zone channel, but this is solely used for offensive highlights. There exists a need for fans to tune into exciting games to watch a conclusion, or perhaps watch the final quarter of a game in which their fantasy football running back needs another touchdown to win the week.
Investing multiple hours into watching a game is a joy for some sports fans, but to others its a chore — and they’d like to just watch a game when it gets good. That’s fine, and it’s great the NBA is looking to cater to them.
Now we need to see if more leagues will follow suit.