Google Buys NBA D-League Rights

By Rick Horrow and Karla Swatek

December 3, 2012

Google has agreed to pay the NBA a low-six figures rights fee in order to stream 350 Development League games on YouTube this season. The deal marks the most live games on YouTube by a major professional sports league. The NBA’s latest partnership with Google and YouTube is being touted as an “experiment” to see how many views and how much ad revenue is generated from the games. When it comes to online video, the NBA is arguably the most progressive U.S. sports league, having launched a dedicated YouTube channel back in 2005.

But for as much of an experiment as this is for the NBA, it’s an equally intriguing test for Google. Live sports tend to be the primary asset preventing consumers from cutting their cable cords and watching more shows and video online. Google hasn’t hidden its interest in leveraging sports content, having been linked to the Big East, English Premier League, and the International Olympic Committee in recent months. With more than $45 billion in cash on hand at the end of its most recent fiscal quarter, Google can afford the “low-six figure” investment in the NBA D-League.

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