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The 2016-17 NBA season is barely a month away, and the Los Angles Clippers just announced they will renew their partnership with FOX Sports Prime Ticket. With the growing digital trend of streaming live sports the multi-year rights deal most notably includes streaming options. However plans for the teams’ own Over-The-Top service will not be fully rolled out this season.
Prime Ticket will broadcast every regular season game, aside from exclusive nationally televised offerings. They will also have the rights to broadcast the first-round of the playoffs and a few pre-season games. The Clippers will once again live stream every game included in their Prime Ticket package on FOX Sports GO—for paid-TV subscription holders only.
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The terms of the new agreement have yet to be officially announced, and deal is still pending league approval. But the LA Times reported it will be worth $50 to $55 million per season, for six seasons, with the option to renegotiate after only two.
The upcoming season will be the Clippers eighth exclusively on Prime Ticket, and their 21st overall. Los Angeles is the second largest television market in the U.S., yet the team does not reach a massive audience, despite their growing popularity.
Clippers owner and former CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer, planned on opting out of their local televisions rights deal to start their own OTT streaming service, but those plans fell through this summer. The team decided to sign a massive new television rights deal – on top of the money they get from the new national NBA television deal—in order to have the financial security to slowly implement their own OTT services.
The team will offer a select amount of in-market fans a trial run of their new digital only offerings. The idea is to help bride the gap between the at-home fan experience and the live in-arena experience. The new tests will begin some time this season.
The Clippers play 26 games on national television in 2016-17, the second most in the league. And they have slowly carved out more space in the LA market over the last last few years, due to their improved play coinciding with the bottoming out of the Lakers. This trend will likely continue as ESPN predicts they will finish third in the Western Conference, and the Lakers will finish last.
From a league perspective, NBA commissioner Adam Silver has made a clear commitment to providing great digital content. Their social media presence is expansive, they have experimented with VR broadcasting, and NBA League Pass (their OTT service) offers single game options.
The 2016-17 season marks the first of ESPN and TNT’s new nine-year NBA rights deal, reportedly worth $2.66 billion per year and $24 billion overall.
The NBA’s move towards OTT will happen eventually, but for now teams and the league will continue to follow the traditional money.