Live NBA games are coming to your phone and other mobile devices via Yahoo Sports, thanks to a new partnership announced Wednesday morning by Verizon and the NBA.
As part of the multi-year partnership, which NBA commissioner Adam Silver and Verizon chairman Lowell McAdam discussed in an interview with Yahoo Sports senior NBA writer Chris Mannix, fans will be able to stream eight NBA games to their devices free through Verizon’s “It’s On Us” program, as sort of a preview of what’s available when you sign up for NBA League Pass. Fans can also get a 50 percent discount on buying a subscription to NBA League Pass to watch every out-of-market game live in the United States.
The deal will allow Yahoo to create new original programming using NBA highlights and archival footage, and to augment Yahoo’s fantasy basketball offerings for fans all over the world through things like a simplified Official NBA Fantasy scoring format and flexible entry for fans looking to start a fantasy season after the NBA campaign has already begun. It also opens the door for a bunch of other new stuff: a new daily NBA show highlighting game action, storylines to watch and commentary about the league that will be available only on Yahoo Sports and across Verizon platforms, as well as the development of augmented reality content that takes advantage of Verizon’s network technology to bring new kinds of experiences to NBA fans, especially younger ones for whom consuming absolutely everything on a phone or mobile device is a primary rather than complementary option.
In their chat with Mannix, Silver and McAdam spoke about the establishment of a joint “innovation fund” intended to figure out how the NBA can take advantage of Verizon’s telecommunications experience and expertise to improve and reimagine the experience of watching and interacting with NBA basketball. Some of those collaborative efforts are expected to begin to bear fruit during the NBA’s 2018 All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles.
“The live game experience continues to change for fans,” Silver said in his interview with Mannix. “And increasingly our young fan base is watching NBA content, whether it’s live games or the content you’re creating, through their mobile devices. And what better partner than Verizon as we look to the future and figure out how these young consumers are going to want to consume games?”
The partnership comes on the heels of a couple of similar agreements — one enabling fans to stream NFL playoff games on the Yahoo Sports mobile app, and others securing distribution rights to stream soccer games from Liga MX and the National Women’s Soccer League on Verizon properties — aimed at better engaging sports fans and potential business partners alike.
“With the addition of live NBA games, highlights, classic footage, originals and more to our mobile sports offering, Yahoo Sports and Verizon’s family of media brands are becoming the first-screen for fans of live sports, and a superior alternative for partners and advertisers,” said Brian Angiolet, Verizon’s senior vice president, and global chief media and content officer, in a statement announcing the deal.
As part of the interview discussing the new arrangement, Mannix asked Silver about the recent and persistent tensions roiling between NBA players and referees, and how the league intends to deal with the issue in both the short and long term:
“We deal with the issue through building relationships,” Silver said. “It’s nothing new. When you look past the comments to the actual data, there hasn’t been an increase in incidents on the floor. In fact, we’re at an all-time low in terms of physical activity — extracurricular, so to speak, activity. But it’s something we’re always concerned about and focused on.”
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