The NBA has been at the forefront of digital purchase innovation. They’ve offered single-game purchases since 2015, and now they’ve taken the logical next step: allowing fans to pay for the final quarter and overtime through their League Pass service.
From the NBA’s release:
Through a new, season-long NBA League Pass offering – available via Turner’s B/R Live streaming service, along with NBA.com and the NBA App – fans will be able to purchase and watch live NBA games in-progress at a reduced price.
Beginning at the start of the season, fans will have the ability to purchase a single game on NBA League Pass from the end of the third quarter to the conclusion of the game for $1.99, offering fans unprecedented real-time access to live NBA action including pivotal matchups, record-setting performances and incredible comebacks.
Starting in early December, fans will have the additional option to buy a single game at reduced prices at the beginning of each quarter. The base price for an entire single game will remain at $6.99, with pricing for the additional options to be announced leading up to marketplace availability.
This is something NBA commissioner Adam Silver has talked about doing for a long time now, dating back to January of 2017:
“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.”
This is a logical outcome, as the NBA looks to appeal to a wider array of viewers than those who are willing to pay anywhere from $250 for the premium full-season, full-league version of League Pass down to the $120 single-team version. Pricing the final quarter at $1.99 keeps the $6.99 single-game pricing viable, too, and the whole thing helps the league compete for viewers who wouldn’t otherwise be watching (or who might be watching via, uh, unofficial channels.)
And that’s important on a few levels. Most obviously, the league desires to grow its audience as wide as possible with a focus on younger viewers, to whom this option seems geared. But it also allows the NBA to expand their user database, data they’ve used in the past for everything from this very offering to changing rules to aid pace of play.
It’s tough to see a downside here, and it’s just as tough to see other leagues not eventually following the NBA’s lead.