Despite what you might think, the NBA’s multi-billion-dollar deal with Time Warner’s (TWX) Turner Broadcasting and Disney’s (DIS) ESPN isn’t about cable TV.
True, the agreement allows both cable networks to televise games though 2024. But the real significance is that, for the first time, ESPN can now stream games over the Internet, attracting younger fans who want to watch on their tablets and phones.
Right now, Turner handles the streaming package of out-of-market games through “NBA League Pass,” but ESPN now will have the ability to stream games. Although it remains unknown whether ESPN will compete with “League Pass,” the possibilities and implications are fascinating, especially if you assume the network will offer a streaming service to people who don’t have cable. And we’re not talking about any people. ESPN clearly has its sights set on younger people who not embracing the cable-TV package at anywhere near the pace of earlier generations.
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