Back in October 2015 when they announced single-game and single-team League Pass streaming options, the NBA also floated the idea on social media to let fans buy just parts of games. Now, it sounds like NBA commissioner Adam Silver is working towards making that a reality. On a sports business innovation panel at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Silver said he thinks they’ll get to a point where there will be an option for fans to buy only the final five minutes of games, as reported by Chuck Schilken of The Los Angeles Times:
“Certainly we’re going from a place where it was one price for an entire season of games. Now just in the last two years, we’ve made single games available,” Silver said of the NBA League Pass package. “But I think you’re going to get to the point where somebody wants to watch the last five minutes of the game, and they go click, they’ll pay a set price for five minutes as opposed to what they would pay for two hours of the game.”
Such a move would be an attempt to cater to modern fans who have plenty of other distractions in their lives. Silver hopes NBA content will soon be easier to watch on mobile devices and that technology will enable fans to know when they should be tuning in.
“I think you’re going to hit the point where for example … you’re on a Twitter feed or you get an alert. I think there will be a lot more sophisticated alerts, and you’ll see, ‘I know Sue Bird, I like Sue Bird, Sue Bird’s going for a record-setting game.’ And then you’re going to go click, and then you’re going to get the game.”
There’s a lot of potential there, perhaps especially for casual fans who are more interested in how a game finishes than in sitting down to watch the entire contest. This also could pair very well with mobile viewing; if you’re out doing something else and don’t have access to a TV, but have the ability to duck out for a moment and watch the end of the game, that could be an enticing option. (It’s worth noting that cable and satellite companies are also promoting out-of-home viewing like this, as in the recent DirecTV “It’s your TV, take it with you” commercials; however, the advantage of the NBA doing this with League Pass is that it could work for cord-cutters or cord-nevers who don’t have a cable package, and also for those who have cable but want to watch the finishes of out-of-market games they wouldn’t normally have access to.)
At this point, this still sounds more like an idea than a definitive offering, and we don’t have a price point or a release date yet (for what it’s worth, full single games are $6.99 each), but it’s certainly an intriguing idea. It also suggests that the NBA is continuing to think about how viewing habits are changing, and that rather than trying to force people into the old models (“how can we make people watch our full games?”), they’re embracing opportunities to reach out to perhaps new viewers in any way they can. Getting a viewer for five minutes of game time is less ideal than getting them for the full game, but it’s much better than not getting them at all, and these sales could add up (especially if there are fans who decide they want to watch lots of different games this way). It also might get new viewers in the door and open them up to watching more NBA games. We’ll see if, when, and how this is implemented, but the idea would seem to have a lot of merit, and it definitely appears worth exploring.