Another Opening, Another Show

The 2022-23 NBA season opens tonight, with great anticipation and massive stakes for the future of all pro sports on the line.

The NBA rights are especially significant because, unlike baseball, it represents a globally popular sport with a significant regular season schedule and enough local and international fan base for media companies to be highly interested in future rights, which become available in 2025.  They also represent a demography that is highly desirable, both in ethnic diversity and income.

TNT, fresh from re-signing Charles Barkley and his INSIDE THE NBA colleagues to a ten-year, multi-million dollar deal even as Warner Brothers Discovery lays off thousands of executives and cancels many other shows and productions, will kick off coverage tonight, with Philadelphia visiting scandal-ridden Boston and the Lakers, with Lebron James chasing the all-time scoring record of Kareen Abdul-Jabbar, hosting the defending champion Warriors.

But it’s their current co-tenants, the Clippers, that may be setting the tone for future media rights.  Later this week, they will introduce Clippervision, hailed as a revolutionary way to immerse one’s self in fanaticism without a subscription to cable or satellite.  As MSN reported, it effectively allows fans to customize their experience in unprecdented ways:

ClipperVision will stream more than 70 games live in-market directly to fans without a pay TV subscription, with the first stream beginning on October 22. It will launch six different streaming options, with more coming in the future. 

Here are the listed options, as stated by the Clippers:

  • “BallerVision – BallerVision will feature live commentary from some of Clipper Nation’s biggest and most well-known personalities — Jamal Crawford, Baron DavisPaul PierceQuentin Richardson, and Matt Barnes — along with guest appearances from Steve Ballmer and celebrity Clippers fans.
  • Traditional Clippers Broadcasts – The app will provide access to live game streams from Bally Sports SoCal and KTLA featuring traditional on-air talent and graphics.
  • CourtVision powered by AWS – Fan-favorite augmented reality streams are back. The CourtVison stream, similar to ShotIQ Mode in the Clippers CourtVision Beta, will carry over augmented graphics for real-time shot probability, statistics, and more.
  • CourtVision Mascot Mode powered by AWS – This stream will feature new and enhanced animations, graphics, and special effects added in real-time with machine learning, an expansion of the similar mode from Clippers CourtVision.
  • ClipperVision in Korean – The Korean-language stream on ClipperVision will be the first Korean-language commentary available OTT in the L.A. market, and it will be called live from Korea by commentator Yong-Gum Jeong, former basketball player and Korean Basketball League champion Tae-Sool Kim, and basketball reporters Hyun-Il Cho and Dae-Bum Son. Korean-language streams will also be available to fans across the United States and internationally, including in Korea, via NBA League Pass, another first.
  • ClipperVision en Español – The Spanish-language stream will be hosted by veteran broadcaster Francisco X. Rivera. Experienced analyst Roger Valdivieso will take the commentator chair along with an extensive list of invited guests. ClipperVision en Español is the first team direct-to-consumer platform produced specifically for a Spanish-speaking audience and it will also be available to fans across the United States and internationally on NBA League Pass.”

The entire Clippers season will be available for $199.99 on ClipperVision. Fans who subscribe to the 2022-2023 season will also receive a free limited-edition LA Clippers jacket and regular season access to Bally Sports+. The opportunity to sign up starts now at www.clippers.com/clippervision.

Whew.  That’s a lot.  But when you have an owner with the resources and passion of a billionaire like Steve Ballmer, who revolutionized Microsoft, it’s no surprise.

And indeed, this model could be the precursor of future deals.  Reports are that future packages, of which Apple and Amazon could both be players, could exceed more than $100 billion for the league.

And yet, in the same breath, the league is actually reaching back to broadcast television for help in getting the word out.  On Christmas Day, facing head-to-head competition from the NFL on two other networks, ABC wlll air five consecutive live games for the first time since this strategy began.  All marquee games, top markets.  And a natural delineation point for the balance of the year.

Sadly, much as I’d love to subscribe, and I could frankly use the jacket, that’s a price point I simply can’t afford.  But that’s even true for ABC and me these days.

Fortunately, more than a few well-heeled Clippers fans will have such money, and will likely make this yet another winning venture for Ballmer, who should have a brand new Westside arena of his own by the time the new NBA media deal starts up, regardless of how little over-the-air television will be a part of it.

I’d like to think I’ll have a chance to see any of it.  I sure wish I will.

But wishing, lately, isn’t worth sh-t.

So I’ll follow this season as much as I can, for as much as I can, until my resources run out.  I’m honestly not sure if I’m gonna make it through Christmas.  In any way.

But the league will go on, and if you’re reading this, you;ll likely pay more attention to it than you’re paying to me.

Good luck, Lebron.  Good luck, TNT.   Good luck, Clippervision. Boy, I wish I knew you for real.

Courage…

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