According to Bloomberg Businessweek, YouTube is in talks with the NBA and the NHL to broadcast live basketball and hockey games. Up until this point, league sports have been leery (and often contractually forbidden) to hand broadcast rights over to the Web, and sketchy, illegal streaming sites have happily stepped into the breach. But as the likes of Netflix and Pandora have proven that old media companies can make easy money handing rights over to the Web, could this be the year that live events and entertainment comes to the web, further eroding the need for people under the age of 30 to pay monthly TV bills?
YouTube has reportedly been pushing harder for NBA and NHL rights following on its successful run broadcasting Indian cricket matches this past year. Bloomberg Businessweek:
Adding live sports broadcasts may help YouTube expand revenue by keeping viewers on its site longer to woo more advertisers. YouTube’s contract to show cricket from the Indian Premier League, which gives the Google unit a share of ad revenue from games and the league’s website, brought in 55 million visits from more than 250 countries, Anand said.
“It’s fair to say that there will be a lot more appealing sports content you’ll see on YouTube,” Anand said. “We have ongoing conversations with pretty much everyone.”
Mountain View, California-based Google is in negotiations with “most pro sports leagues” including the NBA and NHL, as well as soccer leagues in Europe, said Brian Suh, head of YouTube Partnership at Google’s Korean unit, in a separate telephone interview yesterday.
The NBA, anyway, remains a long-term goal: It still has four more years to go before its exclusive deals with ABC, ESPN, and TNT wind down. Then again, at the pace online video has been progressing, it's hard to imagine that in 2016, we still won't get legal, real-time video of sporting events on the Web, possibly accessed through our smartphones via interactive augmented reality/Foursquare QR codes. In all seriousness, live online video is just going to get more and more pervasive in the coming few years, but don't expect the cable and broadcast beneficiaries of the current system to give up their position of advantage without a mighty fight.
(Bloomberg Businessweek via RWW)