Wednesday, October 8, 2014

New NBA-ESPN/Turner Deal Cuts Cord

On Monday, the NBA struck a massive nine-year, $24 billion media right deal to extend current partners ESPN and Turner through 2024-25. The deal, impressive in its reach and its size, impacts a wide-range of people, including you and I. Kevin Draper summed up the different areas of high impact at Deadspin; it's thorough and well-worth the time to read. One of the major areas of focus in the deal is streaming rights, and the way the deal was negotiated, the NBA is preparing for a future where fans are pulling the plug on their cable televisions and opting for internet and mobile streaming.

If you pay for cable (or have paid for), you've probably thought at some point, "I don't need to pay for this any longer. I have my Netflix subscription, my HBOGO and my Hulu."

Except immediately following that though usually comes, "But what about watching my local baseball team. Or the NFL. Or all of those national NBA games?"

It's a tough question to answer because there is no clear answer. Many people stick around paying $50, $60, $70-plus per month, just to keep the answer easy to solve. But now more than ever, people are begrudgingly ditching the cable TV to happily ditch the cable bill. According to the USA Today back in August, an estimated 7.6 million people have opted for a route different from traditional cable TV.

The NBA had a sense that "cord-cutting" or "pulling the plug" is a contemplation that many are having, and the league did its best to answer its part of the personal conundrum.

As part of the new deal, the NBA will work with ESPN to develop an online streaming platform that will air nationally televised games. Unlike ESPN's current WatchESPN, the NBA's streaming platform will simply be an over-the-top service that will not require a cable subscription to log-in.

It is important to note, however, that Turner will also continue to maintain NBA TV and NBA League Pass. The NBA League Pass allows fans to watch any out of market games for $149 a year, although it has had plenty of detractors in the past for its poor quality. Regardless, how will League Pass impact which games are offered on the coming ESPN platform? It's hard to say this far out.

While most do not see this moment as Death to Cable Television, it is a step. If it's not a full step towards "a la carte" (pay for what you choose), it's certainly a full step forward for cord-cutters. Will other major sports leagues follow soon? They'll let the NBA be the guinea pig and decide in due time.


Kevin Rossi is a senior Drexel Sport Management major with minors in communication and business administration. Since joining the SMTSU, Kevin has worked his way up the ladder to president and now serves as a senior adviser for the group. Currently, Kevin is serving as an Athletic Communications Assistant for Drexel Athletics. Kevin has writing experience with,, The Triangle, Temple University, and various outlets in a freelance capacity. Follow Kevin on Twitter @kevin_rossi.

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