The NBA right now is basically everything the NFL is not.
The leaders of the leagues set the tone. Adam Silver behaves like a leader and Roger Goodell … well, he does not.
The NBA tries new things, and one of the newest new things is a la carte availability for games this season. You don’t have to pony up $199 for League Pass. You don’t even have to pay the new $120 option for single-team League Pass. For $6.99, you can just watch one game — any game — on your computer, tablet or mobile device. (Note: The league is in discussion with television distributors but does not know which ones will participate in offering single games. An earlier version of this post erroneously stated that such relationships were already in place).
On the one hand, that kind of option is beautiful. Let’s say you’re a casual Wolves fan living in Utah with a night to kill. You can blow 7 bucks on a pay-per-view movie or you can watch KAT and the rest of the youngsters play Team X. There’s no commitment other than a reasonably small amount of money. It’s exactly the kind of a la carte pricing people have been demanding …
But on the other hand, it’s also the kind of spendy a la carte pricing that many of us have been warned/warning about. You want choice? It’s going to cost you. Don’t want to pay triple-digits for a cable/satellite bill every month? You don’t have to, but you’ll get nickeled and dimed along the way if you still want access.
The $6.99 price point seems a little high; I’m sure it was arrived at in some meaningful way, and maybe in the grand scheme of things a fan who is willing to pay, say, $4.99 is also willing to go the extra couple of bucks higher. If I lived out of market, I would be genuinely tempted by the $120 single team option since I would likely have cable anyway and could watch almost every other game I really wanted to watch (aside from Wolves games) on ESPN, TNT, etc.
What I would REALLY love is the option to buy a game in progress at a discount if it looked enticing. Kobe has 40 points through three quarters? Yeah, put me down for $3.99 to see the fourth.
But I suspect most people who really love the NBA will either still pony up full price for League Pass or get by with the local/national access they get with cable. And that a la carte pricing, which people claim they want, will remain a thing that not many people actually use when it comes to sports.