Blog Post

Finals wrap up record year for NBA streaming

Over the course of the last several years, the National Basketball Association has worked to make live and on-demand streams of its games available online and on a growing number of mobile and connected devices. That effort has paid off in the latest season, with the league clocking more website visitors and video streams over the course of the 2010/2011 season and postseason than ever before.

According to Turner Broadcasting, (s TWX) which manages and all other digital distribution points for the league, the postseason visitors to NBA sites grew to 401 million, which is an increase of 11 percent over last year. But the number of videos watched increased even more, with viewers tuning into 141 million streams over the course of the NBA playoffs, up 89 percent.

That capped off a record year for visitors and online video views for the league in general. Over the season and postseason, had more than 8 billion page views, which was an increase of more than 33 percent. Meanwhile, the league reported more than 2.7 billion video streams during the year, which was an increase of more than 133 percent.

In addition to, the league has made its videos available through applications on a number of mobile and connected TV platforms. The NBA GameTime app is available on the iPhone, iPad, (s AAPL) BlackBerry, (s RIMM) and Android (s GOOG) mobile devices, as well as connected devices such as Apple TV, Google TV, Roku, Vizio, LG, Panasonic and Samsung. The league reported that it saw a 90-percent increase in the number of app downloads across all platforms versus last year.

Despite the growth in video streams and availability of online content, the number of viewers who tuned in to watch the games doesn’t appear to have been affected. In fact, the 2011 playoffs on TNT were the highest-rated in cable history. Meanwhile, the 15.0 overnight Nielsen rating that game six of the finals got was 22 percent higher than the deciding game in last year’s Lakers-Celtics matchup.

5 Responses to “Finals wrap up record year for NBA streaming”

  1. Ryan, the NBA playoffs were high rated because people like me who subscribe to NBA league pass during the season had to watch the playoffs on TV. There’s no other option.

    Think of sports on TV as you would music in the CD era. You had to buy the CD to hear the song. When the NBA enables streaming for the playoffs, their ratings will fall kind of like CD sales.

    • Ryan Lawler

      @kwasi, I think it’s difficult to argue over why one season’s playoffs is rated more highly than another. Sometimes the teams or the storylines are more interesting than in past seasons. In the case of this year’s playoffs, there were a lot of things that appealed to viewers — there was the Mavs underdog story, hatred of LeBron and the creation of the Heat machine, etc.

      That said, there’s some evidence to suggest that ancillary video highlight reels and materials from online create excitement for the actual broadcasts of live events like this. It’s really too difficult to say one way or another, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the increase in streaming was one component in the increase in overall audience for the broadcast.

  2. I’m very confused by this article. I am not aware that you can (legally) watch NBA playoff games online at or anywhere else–other than sometimes. does not stream live games that I know of, and I would know because I am a big NBA fan and don’t have cable. I had to watch games on pirate internet tv feeds during the playoffs. The playoff games are shown by cable stations, which own the rights to broadcast them. TNT does not show their games online. ESPN owned some of the games, and they would show those games on as well as on their cable channel. Thanks ESPN!
    I also have AppleTV with the NBA app, and that didn’t show any playoff games at all. Again, the cable channels own the exclusive rights to show those, and the NBA app specifically excludes any game that it broadcast nationally, which is all playoff games. So this article is very unclear. Perhaps it means games were shown online during the regular season, but during the playoffs that virtually ended. If ‘online videos’ means highlight reels, interviews, and that other crap, then who cares? The only thing that is of value is actual games.

    • Ryan Lawler

      Alvy, I disagree. If people are watching a record amount of online video on during the playoffs, then clearly that video has value. It might not be live games, but people are catching up on highlights, etc. in a place that the league can monetize them.