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The NBA has dramatically updated its mobile offerings for the 2009-10 season, including a new application for the iPhone and Android that provides live video streams of games.
NBA League Pass Mobile costs $39.99 for the season, and gives users access to more than 40 live games each week. It identifies a user’s location via GPS in order to block access to the nearest local team, but other than that, the MobiTV-powered app is all-you-can-eat.
I tried out League Pass Mobile last night and it looked great, especially on Wi-Fi. The app includes live DVR capabilities, adaptive bitrate streaming, on-demand access to games for 48 hours, live stats, push alerts, and the ability to turn off all that information while you’re watching a game and just want to experience it in real time.
The app is not yet available publicly, but it should be out ASAP, definitely before the end of the week. Update: iPhone version is here. And paying users of NBA League Pass Broadband will have to open up their wallets again; the two products aren’t bundled.
In my testing on an iPhone (see gallery of screenshots below), the 3G stream, which AT&T ratchets down to start at 240 Kbps, crapped out on me a bit, which sucks if you’ve paid 40 bucks for it. NBA Digital general manager Bryan Perez said to expect streaming quality to improve over the course of the season. “Convenience can be just as important as the content itself,” Perez said. “Just because it’s not in HD doesn’t mean it’s not adding tremendous value to your quality of life.”
Along with the big-money video app, NBA Digital is upgrading last year’s Game Time app to a paid version ($9.99) and still giving out a free “Lite” version. The paid version, available for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry devices, includes live audio feeds for every game — including those in your local market — as well as stats, video highlights and push alerts. The free app has scores, standings and schedules. So if you care most about not having your local team’s games blacked out, this app’s for you.
Perez told us he thinks the NBA stacks up well in digital vs. other major sports leagues because it has the youngest demographic, though he admitted that Major League Baseball has been pioneering the business models for sports delivered digitally. He contended the NBA has the immense advantage of having all its assets under one roof between television, Internet and mobile, along with a vested interest on the part of Turner to promote digital projects. Next up, Perez said NBA Digital is looking to partner with regional sports providers to try to offer in-market access to games, which would have to be a major boost to usage.