For those interested in catching NBA D-League games this season, YouTube will be broadcasting most of them live on its site. Approximately 350 of the 400 total regular-season games will be available through the D-League YouTube (News - Alert) channel, as well as a YouTube video player featured on NBA.com.
The videos will be in high-definition, and will be archived once each game is over with on-demand capability, highlights and other short-form content for fans to check out, such as various features on the top players in the league, and recaps of the top 10 plays of the D-League’s season.
This marks the first time a professional sports league has ever used YouTube as its primary broadcaster, according to ESPN (News - Alert) Playbook.
“When we looked at what would give our league the best platform for exposure for up-and-coming prospects, YouTube was at the top of the list,” said NBA D-League president Dan Reed. “We’re looking to really take that to the next level with YouTube.”
The popular video-sharing website purchased the rights to the D-League games as part of the deal, but the specific terms of the agreement are not being released by the NBA, nor Google (News - Alert) (which owns YouTube).
This deal is an exciting one for YouTube, as it is the biggest live professional sports deal the company has ever made, and will help widen future prospects for the site.
Claude Ruibal, the global head of sports for both Google and YouTube, commented on the momentous decision, saying “We want to grow our live content. We’ve been a great catch-up destination, a place you can go to find things you might have missed. In sports, live is a big component, and we think we can develop pretty good visibility.”
While YouTube may not be able to compete with mainstream sports channels, the company expects positive ad revenue and positive monetization in the long term, due to the fact that the smaller leagues and sports divisions do not have such strong platforms or widespread distribution.
“There are many sports that are not really well-distributed to their fans. I describe them as underserved sports fans and under-distributed sports. We’ve been working with a lot of sports governing bodies that have pretty good production but limited distribution--we have the ability to provide distribution. We’re trying to be additive to the offerings that currently exist,” said Ruibal.
The season will begin broadcasting through YouTube this Friday, with four games starting at 7:30 on the east coast.
“We’re thrilled to be working with the NBA, David Stern and Adam Silver,” said Ruibal. “I think it’s a great template to show other leagues and sports that YouTube can be additive to their existing offerings.”
Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli