In a major alley-oop, the NBA is about to give regional sports networks (RSNs) like MSG, YES and Fox Sports affiliates the rights to control their local digital content, the Sports Business Journal reports. Once the specifics are worked out, the NBA will be the only professional sports league to allow the RSNs (which typically partner with or are owned by their respective teams) to develop, manage and roll out digital content as they see fit. The new deal will cover VOD, some broadband services and the local in-market streaming rights to live games. Of course, these rights don’t come cheap:
— In exchange for the VOD rights, the NBA wants up to 200 advertising spots per month on each network
— Networks will pay the league $3,000 for each game they stream live locally, or about $250,000 for the whole season
— The networks’ per subscriber fees (or fees they pay to the NBA for the rights to carry games in an area outside of a team’s 75-mile market) will be bumped up by about 9 percent
Who wins : The NBA, as it can reap the benefits (financial and otherwise) of digital adoption without having to invest in additional tech, sales or marketing infrastructure. Also, RSNs like *Comcast* SportsNet that are owned by cable operators, since they’ll be able to market the content as a value-add vs. rivals like *DirecTV* and *Verizon* (which is muscling in to the cable space with FiOS). It’s not all upside for the independent RSNs, however. While they can charge subscribers extra to stream games live, they’ll still have to pay their cable or satellite partner a cut of that revenue, and some preexisting contracts prohibit them from live streaming games altogether.