Everyone’s been there. You spend all day looking forward to watching your favorite NBA team. Finally it’s time to sit down, relax and watch the game. You log into your NBA League Pass account and boom – blackout.
Too often are fans hit with restrictions that prohibit them from watching games within their home markets. With consumer more frequently cutting the cord and switching to streaming, the NBA has to adapt and provide more options so fans can catch all 82 games.
According to ESPN, the Utah Jazz are taking a step to solve this problem.
In an interview with ESPN’s Tim Bontemps, Jazz owner Ryan Smith discussed a new plan that will offer streamable games to fans, starting in the 2023-24 season. The team will broadcast their games locally on KJZZ and stream them on a platform called Jazz+, where fans will also get to watch exclusive behind the scenes content from the team. This gives the Jazz full broadcast rights over their own games.
Fans can stream individual games for $5 a pop, or watch every game for $15.50 a month. Individuals who purchase an annual subscription of $125.50 per year before October 24, will receive two tickets to a Jazz home game.
This is a major step for improving access for fans who want to watch their team without restrictions. It will be interesting to see how demand for the Jazz’s service influences the rest of the league, especially from a pricing perspective. For reference, an NBA League Pass subscription is $99.99 per season with commercials and $149.99 without (though you may run into the blackout issue.)
For NBA teams this will be a financial question. According to the ESPN story, the Jazz were making $20 million on their TV deal with AT&T prior to announcing the new service. Will the team be able to make that money back from subscriptions? Smith told ESPN he believes it could in the medium term.
This type of service could benefit San Antonio Spurs fans who suffered from blackouts in recent years. An anonymous fan I spoke to lives just a few hours away from the Frost Bank Center would routinely get blackouts on League Pass, and without cable, had no way to view games if the Bally sports app malfunctioned. If San Antonio could make the financials work, they could satisfy their itch to watch the team without looking for alternative ways to follow them when blackouts occur.