Does No One Remember That The NBA Tried And Failed To Do Paid Internet Videos A Year Ago?

from the reporting?--bah! dept

Perhaps it’s not surprising to find reporters who can’t remember events in the tech world from 10 years ago when the same things are repeating themselves today, but is it really so hard to expect a reporter from a major publication (say, the NY Times) to at least remember what happened a year ago? In January of 2006, Google announced its Google Video product to tremendous fanfare. At the time of the launch, the big story wasn’t about a YouTube competitor (YouTube still wasn’t that big), but that Google had signed a bunch of deals with content providers to let users buy online videos. One of the big brand name partners was the NBA, who had agreed to post videos of basketball games (both recent and classic) that could be downloaded for just $4. Lots of folks wrote about it — even the NY Times. It was a “big deal.” Of course, what followed was that no one wanted to pay to see basketball games online. Instead, everyone gravitated to free content on YouTube. So, Google just bought YouTube and the deal with the NBA was quietly shuttered, receiving a lot less attention than when it was announced. So why is it that when the NBA decides to let fans buy both new and classic games from its own site for $3 (getting cheaper!), it’s written up as a big new thing in the NY Times without a single mention of the fact that the NBA failed at doing nearly an identical thing just a year ago?

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Comments on “Does No One Remember That The NBA Tried And Failed To Do Paid Internet Videos A Year Ago?”

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Ewan (user link) says:

Press releases

The reason why is simple, it’s not mentioned because whichever press release or briefing the journalist from the NY Times copied down the details from didn’t mention the Google Videos failure.

This is largely what journalists do now, often without changing the words from the release, so you end up with 4 or 5 competitive newspapers carrying not just similar but identical stories.

IMHO says:

If at first you don't succeed, try try try again

Yeh, but is it such a bad thing they try again?

$4 a show was expensive, given the going rate for cable is something like $10 a channel a month max. So they’ve got a long way to go to get their packages assembled and prices correctly, but thats true of other business too. At least they’re trying different tweaks.

It’s just a different cable, if people pay for content down one cable, they’ll pay for content down the other. I like it that NBA are trying again and don’t think it’s necessary to dwell on past failures.

Oh and Google Video too, the flat pricing was too expensive, and I’d waste an hour to select an hours entertainment. Why they don’t assemble channels and sell them as subscription channels? Or flat price per days entertainment or or or… i.e. tweak and try again.

Alan says:

Re: If at first you don't succeed, try try try aga

“going rate for cable is something like $10 a channel a month max” ….

…not sure where you live, but around here (toronto, canada), that would mean my 70 channel package would cost me $700.00 per month? I am pretty sure I am not paying quite that much….

Matthew says:

Cheaper because it is direct

I’m no big NBA fan, but it seems a slightly better business model to host these videos on the NBA site as opposed to a 3rd party provider. Would you be more likely to find a quality basketball item in a Swap Meet, or a dedicated NBA store?

Sure, if you look really hard, you can get great deals at Swap Meets, but the Internet is about ease/convenience. It only makes sense that you’d sell these games to people that come to your site if you must sell them at all.

plamoa says:

Why does the NYT make a big deal about this? Because it’s common for news stories to be a marketing or public relations venue for all kinds of organizations, from business to government. All the marketer has to do is convince a not-to-inquisitive reporter that a press release is a good story. If the press release is well done, then the reporter gets a free ride on the day’s work.
This is nothing new. News stories as advertising and PR is a very old concept. Sometimes it’s easy to identify the source and motive for a story, and sometimes it’s not…although in this age of googling, it’s easier now.

Sanguine Dream says:

Lock down...

I agree with comment #3. The point of the online NBA games should have been to get them out to people who otherwise will not get a chance to see them like people outside the US. But instead they went the way trying to squeeze money out of loyal US based fans.

It’s nice to see that they are trying again instead of going to the government to pay for a few laws to protect their online services though. And as for why the Times is acting like this is a brand new idea? Simple, the NBA wants to bury that failed project in order to create the image of getting it right the first time.

Anonymous Coward says:

Grasping at straws

The market they relied on has been evaporating for a few years now. Distributing on the web helps their product penetrate other user bases and hopefully bring in fresh viewers.

The problem is that the NBA is not “cool” anymore. Once upon a time, kids would become sports freaks in school and the trend would follow them into the real world, where they could live vicariously through the players on TV. In todays world you go through most schools of any significant size and you won’t hear much said about professional sports. A stigma of middle aged men with beer belly’s and bad hair cuts has replaced the idealized view of professional sports.

You could compare the state of the NBA to the state of NASCAR a few years ago. They began to fade and the numbers of viewers started falling. Of course all NASCAR had to do to revive some interest was give back to the people a little more and get more penetration into the advertising world. Now even snickers commercials have NASCAR’s drivers on them. The problem for the NBA is that their players look really goofy and don’t make good spokes people. They also lack “good” people that the fans can relate to. Everyone in the NBA wants to be a badass, but it doesn’t appeal to anyone when they are among the most pampered people in the world.

James says:


Another attempt to create a market where it doesn’t (or does questionably) exist.

You might find a few folks willing to pay for this, but if they have the internet connection to download this, they most likely have cable and as everyone knows cable is a big enough rip off on its OWN… if you’re already paying for that, why would you want to pay more to download something you can set your dvr to record, or just watch?

Scott says:

I think there's a misunderstanding

Alan, I believe that what IMHO was trying to say with the channels being $10 a channel, is that the premium channels from cable companies can cost up to $10 a channel, although that’s no longer really the case, with both cable and satellite massively dropping the cost for HBO and the like.

Nowadays it could be up to $10 a month for the 7 or 8 various channels that HBO or Showtime or whoever broadcasts, but most people think of it as only one channel, rather than multiple channel packages.

Casper says:

Re: I think there's a misunderstanding

Nowadays it could be up to $10 a month for the 7 or 8 various channels that HBO or Showtime or whoever broadcasts, but most people think of it as only one channel, rather than multiple channel packages.

That could be because only one channel in the bundle is worth paying for, so people look at it as buying the channel they want and getting a bunch or crap that was stuck to it.

When I ordered the speed channel, they forced me to take 5 other sports channels. Of course there was no way they were going to let me get away with just the good channel…

Nismoto says:

#11 – “In todays world you go through most schools of any significant size and you won’t hear much said about professional sports”. In my world, I know quite a few kids that pretend to be their favorite players while playing the game. And the only thing that “saved” NASCAR was the fact their Redneck God died. His death alone probably contributed the most to a NASCAR revival, if one exists.

Why shouldn’t the NBA try again? I would pay $3 for a “classic” game I haven’t seen in 15+ years or for a highlight real of my favorite players.

I think what is more interesting in the article is the upcoming search functionality and how highlights or events in the games are being logged so that you can search on things like “dunkenstien” and not come up with crap like this.

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