Australian sports are finally catching up! After following every Celtics game online since I’ve become a basketball fan (oh, 2007, you were such a great year) I have always wondered why no Australian sport has decent online coverage. You can barely get live scores on the league and club websites, for crying out loud! But now, the NBL has sorted it out and I am ecstatic. Mostly…
PERFORM Media has partnered with the NBL to broadcast all games on NBL.tv. That’s right – ALL GAMES, NO DELAYS – which viewers can watch on any digital platform (tv, PC, tablet, phone… you get the picture) for $79 per season… or $59 if you catch the early bird special… or $19 per month, if that’s more your speed. There will be more available On Demand, so people can watch delayed if they want, and Boomers and Opals home games will also be available. It’s pretty great.
Why It’s Groundbreaking
Amazingly, this has never been done in Australia. Before this season, if you wanted to watch a game that wasn’t on free-to-air, you had to get a ridiculous sports package for your TV, try to convince a bartender to put the game on (good luck with that!) or stream it online… which is illegal and terrible quality. At least, that’s what I hear.
Part of the reason this hasn’t happened before is because the AFL and the NRL can make more money by selling the TV rights to delayed games, than they would by offering an online subscription. The fact that the NBL has chosen to do it this way may mean their TV rights are not that valuable – at least not as valuable as the AFL or NRL – but I’m going to remain positive and say they care about the fans.
Why It’s Good For The League
1. It’s great for current fans. They can now watch more games on more platforms and that can increase brand loyalty. Not only that, but check out how this helps number three…
2. Another revenue stream. People are paying for access to this, which means more income and like I’ve said countless times before… we all want more income. Sports leagues are no exception.
3. Increased sponsorships. The league has already been approached by potential sponsors now that they’ve gone digital. Why? Because now that they’re online, sponsors can do more individual, tailored marketing (you know, it’s like how Facebook shows you certain ads depending on where you are, who you talk to and the stuff you do online?).
4. The NBL keeps the broadcasting rights. Unlike many sports agreements where revenue generated by broadcasting goes to the rights holder (in this case, it’s PERFORM), NBL.tv will be league-operated so the league keeps the revenue. This deal is a cash cow!
5. It means Australia is catching up! Most overseas leagues already have hugely successful deals like this. NBA LeaguePass? That’s gold, right there. If it’s proven that this can be a success… why wait?
Why It’s Bad
It’s not. I just needed a place to complain that the commercial terms aren’t available to the public. How am I supposed to evaluate the league and know what it’s worth if you won’t show my your commercial agreement?!
What I’d Do Differently
Although I think that overall, this is great and all the Australian leagues should have some form of this (although not too soon, or the NBL will lose it’s edge) the problem involves the new fans. New fans are not going to want to pay for this service, yet. It’s true that this service makes NBL games available to more Australians than ever before, but what does that matter if no one purchases it? I think there are two solutions: offer a free trial of NBA.tv or offer live streaming of some games.
New fans might like the idea of this deal but if this is their first season watching? Eh, probably not going to pay the 80 bucks. But if the NBL offered a one-time trial for a week or month or round… they might be more likely to subscribe and keep subscribing. With all the busy schedules these days, they don’t want to sit in front of the TV – they’ll appreciate the vote of confidence given to them by a free trial. Another option would be to give everyone a free preview with free streaming. By offering free live streaming of some games – maybe one per round? – fans, especially new fans, could see how awesome it is and watch more games, get involved and purchase a subscription for next season.
I might also give a bit of a discount to club members, regardless of early bird or not, to reward them for their loyalty. It’s just a nice thing to do. Plus, it would likely increase the number of users in the first year, at least.
What do you think about the new deal? Will people be keen to watch NBL games online? Will it be a success? Will it get new fans? How will it affect sponsors?