By Matt Moore
When the NBA announced its agreement with the players to end the 2011 five-month lockout, talk turned immediately to where things were going forward. How would a 66-game schedule affect teams and players? What about free agency? And hey, when can I order League Pass? The league's television distribution package for out-of-market locally televised games is a staple for hardcore fans and those living in cities away from their teams' broadcasts.
The league waited quite a while to release the package with many speculating that there would be a significant price drop based on the loss of 16 games per-team due to the lockout-shortened schedule. Instead, earlier this week, the NBA finally launched its website for the 2011-2012 season with a price of $169 for the full television package.
Cats and dogs, living together, mass hysteria.
But there's more to the package this year than meets the eye, and it's on account of where technology has progressed to in terms of sports media. Christina Miller, Senior Vice President and General Manager of NBA Digital told CBSSports.com that the package's price was determined based off the decision to combine NBA's television package, along with League Pass Broadband which is available online, and League Pass mobile which streams on ... well, mobile devices.
"The price this season is $169," Miller says. "Last year was $189, but this year the difference is we've created an all-inclusive package for $169. Any-time anywhere, on any screen, you can get the game on. Last year, mobile would have been a $50 standalone. That puts you at $239 vs. $169."
Miller said the decision to include the products together, while many fans may only use one of the options, was not made based on data indicating a trend in mobile users specifically of league pass, but market trends across NBA digital towards mobile users in particular.
The $19 price tag represents 89 percent of the cost for 2010-2011, while the season has actually been cut to just 80 percent of the usual 82 games. However, there are mitigating factors like the increased percentage of nationally televised games still available outside of the package. The league is also extending the free period for those who want to judge whether to purchase the package, extending it from the usual week to two weeks.
But the big push here is clearly with regards to the mobile properties with the explosion of tablets and smartphones on the market.
So if you're someone who travels often or is glued to your mobile phone or tablet, it's probably a great deal, provided you also watch games on your television. NBA League Pass Broadband streaming online will cost $29.95 a month for the discounted option of selecting 5 teams instead of getting all 30.
There will continue to be questions as to why the league didn't do more to offer a give back after taking away 16 games per team in the lockout, but at least those who do use the service across the board on all three platforms will be given a discount.