This summer YouTube made its biggest advance into sports by picking up rights to live stream the Olympics in various countries, but now it has gained a domestic foothold by partnering with the NBA to air D-League games. While the world isn't exactly beating down the doors to watch minor league basketball, this is YouTube's biggest pro sports deal so far. Neither the NBA nor Google will say how much the rights cost for it to air 350 or so of the league's 400 games, but we wouldn't expect to see YouTube bids for Monday Night Football. The NBA has long been a YouTube partner in other deals, and there were rumors last year that they were considering a deal for games, although right now Google seems to have its eye on ESPN3 instead of ESPN and will focus on niche sports and complementary programming. If you're a fan of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants or just trying to catch a peek at the next Jeremy Lin before everyone else, the broadcasts start Friday night (in HD) with four games. They're also accessible via team and league websites, as archived VOD on YouTube, through mobile apps for iOS and Android or, of course, on TV when they air on NBA TV and CBS Sports Network.
NBA and YouTube To Partner To Present NBA D-League Games Live on YouTube
Partnership To Enable Fans To Watch More Than 350 Live Games This Season on NBA D-League YouTube Channel
-- 2012-13 NBA D-League Season Tips Off With Four Games on Friday, Nov. 23 --
NEW YORK, November 20, 2012 – The NBA and YouTube announced a new deal today that will provide fans with more than 350 NBA Development League games streamed live during the 2012-13 regular season on the NBA D-League YouTube channel and through a YouTube video player on NBA.com. The partnership was announced by Adam Silver, NBA Deputy Commissioner, and Claude Ruibal, Global Head of Sports for Google/YouTube.
The deal marks another first between the NBA and YouTube. The NBA was the first professional sports league to partner with YouTube in 2005 to unveil the NBA Channel and to join their "Claim Your Content" program. To date, more than 960 million videos have been viewed by fans, making it the most popular sports channel on YouTube.
As a result of today's announcement, the NBA D-League, the NBA's official minor league, will feature the most live games on YouTube by a major professional sports league.
"The NBA's latest initiative with YouTube marks another milestone in our partnership and a great way to tip off the 12th season of the NBA Development League," said Silver. "By turning to our longtime partner, YouTube, we are able to bring the NBA D-League to basketball fans around the world, further expanding the league's growth and showcasing future NBA stars."
"As one of the world's most popular sports with a broad roster of top prospects, the NBA D-League is a perfect fit for the YouTube platform," said Ruibal. "With our broad global delivery across all platforms and devices, providing live and catch up NBA D-League games and highlights will make this exciting content easily accessible to a whole new generation of basketball fans."
The NBA D-League season on YouTube will tip off opening night on Friday, Nov. 23, with four games when the Maine Red Claws meet the Canton Charge, the Erie BayHawks play the Ft. Wayne Mad Ants, the Tulsa 66ers host the Texas Legends, and the Bakersfield Jam open against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. The four games on opening night will feature 36 top NBA prospects that recently participated in NBA training camps.
Throughout the season, NBA D-League fans won't miss a moment of live regular season action as all of the league's games will be available nationwide either online; on the NBA D-League Center Court mobile app – the league's free mobile application providing fans with access to NBA D-League content on the Android Market and the App Store; or on CBS Sports Network and NBA TV, the league's national television partners.
In addition, fans will be able to access the live games on the NBA D-League YouTube channel via all of the league's 16 team web sites. They can also access archived versions of the live games to view on demand through the YouTube channel and the league's web site shortly after the conclusion of the contests.
Overall, the NBA D-League features 16 teams with direct affiliations to NBA franchises. The league is a proven developer of talent with 20 percent of players on 2012-13 NBA opening-day rosters having NBA D-League experience.