The NBA announced plans to unbundle its out-of-market OTT and pay-TV programming service, League Pass, potentially creating significant challenges to national cable channels and regional sports networks.
The pro hoops league hasn't offered pricing specifics yet, but did say that it will allow League Pass users to purchase only individual games, or purchase games only from an individual team.
Currently, League Pass charges over $200 a season to stream every game that's out of a user's market--a bundle of more than 1,000 games.
The a la carte availability of NBA games has major implications for the current pay-TV ecosystem.
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.
Inexpensive, a la carte streaming access to NBA games has the potential to cut into market share for regional sports networks like Time Warner Cable Lakers channel SportsNet, which is currently paying the team $3.6 billion over 20 years for RSN rights.
Also losing out could be Disney/ESPN and Turner Networks, which together pay the NBA $2.6 billion a year for national broadcast rights.
"Wow. That shakes the ecosystem," Jimmy Schaeffler, a former producer for ABC Sports and now the chairman of pay-TV consulting firm Carmel Group, told Bloomberg. "The whole idea of individual choice is seeping into something that could have gone a long time before it came to this."
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Update: An earlier version of this story featured an inaccurate interpretation of what "out-of-market game" means.