Dish Network has become the first pay-TV operator to sign onto “NBA Team Pass,” a new service that unbundles single teams and lets subscribers watch all their out-of-market games throughout the regular season.
The new product, which launches tonight, opening night for the NBA’s 2016-17 season, goes for $119 a month. The standard NBA League Pass package – which includes out-of-market games for all 30 of the league’s teams – will continue to be available for $199 a month.
“Now an NBA fan on the East Coast who wants to follow just their favorite West Coast team can opt for NBA Team Pass,” said Josh Clark, VP of Programming for Dish, in a statement.
The NBA announced in July that it was disaggregating its popular live-game League Pass package down to a more a la carte level. In addition to the $119 single-team season package, the NBA has a League Pass version that lets viewers pay $6.99 for a single game. So far, not even Dish has announced the availability of that product.
League Pass is not only available as a linear TV product through pay-TV operators, but it is also sold as a standalone streaming service, available for iOS and Android mobile devices, as well as Macs and PCs, directly from the NBA.
The NBA's decision to unbundle League Pass follows the settlement of a lawsuit filed against the National Hockey League. Hockey fans filed a class-action complaint against the NHL to similarly unbundle the league's streaming package.
As for operators, they have to walk a fine line, given that, in many cases, they’re paying expensive carriage fees for regional sports network channels that license games from specific teams.