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LA Clippers offer live in-market NBA games on new DTC platform

NBA franchise is the first in the league to go it alone on direct-to-consumer.

18 October 2022 Steve McCaskill
LA Clippers offer live in-market NBA games on new DTC platform

LA Clippers

  • ‘ClipperVision’ will show 74 of the Clippers’ 82 games this season
  • All fixtures will be available in multiple languages and simulcasts

The Los Angeles Clippers have become the first National Basketball Association (NBA) franchise to offer a direct-to-consumer (DTC) streaming platform with live in-market games.

‘ClipperVision’ complements the team’s existing local broadcast deals and will broadcast 74 of the Clippers’ 82 matches this season – the other eight have been selected for coverage by the NBA’s national broadcast partners.

Alongside conventional broadcasts from local partners Bally Sports SoCal and free-to-air (FTA) station KTLA, ClipperVision will offer multiple streams of live games to attract as wide an audience as possible.

‘CourtVision’ uses Amazon Web Service (AWS) technology to offer augmented graphics and real time statistics, while ‘Mascot Mode’ offers enhanced animations and graphics using the tech giant’s machine learning capabilities. Broadcasts will also be available with Spanish and Korean commentary.

The service is powered by the NBA’s new integrated digital platform, which also runs the new NBA app, and costs US$199 a season. The Clippers hope the breadth of their offering and the price point will attract cord cutters and younger demographics who mainly consume sport through digital platforms. 

“I have wanted to create a product like ClipperVision since the day I came to the Clippers,” said Clippers chairman Steve Ballmer, who was previously chief executive of Microsoft. “Years of effort, hard work and development have led up to its launch.”

“ClipperVision’s augmented reality and interactivity will let us transform the experience our fans have watching games, and provide them with more platforms to watch the Clippers.”

The Clippers only reached a renewal with local partner Bally Sports SoCal earlier this month after their deal with the regional sports network (RSN) expired over the summer. Bally Sports will show 63 games, while KTLA will have 11 fixtures, which the Clippers believe will broaden their viewership in a competitive sports market that also includes the Los Angeles Lakers.

SportsPro says…

The NBA is one of the most progressive sports leagues in the world and there are few that embrace digital platforms so enthusiastically. Subscribers to the NBA League Pass over-the-top (OTT) platform can already receive out-of-market games not selected for national television, but the league and its clubs are now looking towards the streaming of in-market games.

Local broadcasts have been dominated by RSNs like the Bally Sports network. However, these have been disproportionately affected by the trend of cord cutting, with declining carriage fees and lower viewership hampering revenues.

Although RSNs are still viable, and an important source of revenue for major league teams in the US, Bally Sports and others have looked towards DTC as a way of futureproofing their business. While Bally Sports+ is able to offer NBA matches in the markets it operates in – it only has Major League Baseball (MLB) games in five markets – this move by the Clippers suggests some teams are interested in taking a more direct route if they can get the appropriate rights.

Recent speculation has linked the NBA, MLB, and the National Hockey League (NHL) with a potential acquisition of the Bally’s network itself, eager to regain rights sold in long-term deals that did not take into account the rise of streaming, in order to aid their own in-market ventures.

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