Sports Leagues and Live Streaming Games

I just read a very interesting article from Adweek about leagues and live streaming. As more and more people are getting content from devices other than their TVs (computers, cellphones, etc), live streaming provides an interesting opportunity and challenge for leagues. Many questions have come up about live streaming such as, how to decide what to/not to stream, how to monetize this, does live streaming steal viewers from TV, etc, etc.

We're still very early in the game with live streaming so I just wanted to provide a few highlights from Adweek's article and see what you think about this topic. This is all very interesting to me.

What Leagues Are Doing.

  • NFL - Live streaming Sunday Night Football Extra on and
  • MLS - live streams games on - subscription model and no games from tv partners are shown. MLS hopes to make this service free/ad-supported next season
  • NHL - streams out-of-market games (honors local broadcast agreements) via subscription service
  • NBA - plans to stream live-games in local markets on team sites in 2008-09 season, but this will infringe on local TV partners' broadcast rights. Pricing model is TBD
  • MLB - became first league to stream a whole season of games in 2003 via (subscription required).

Other Live Streaming Examples

  • and NCAA Basketball Tournament. Entire tournament streamed free this year, and ad revenue was $23 million this year, up from $4 million in 2006. Advertising is sold separately from the TV broadcast.
  • ESPN 360 - streamed 3,000 events in the past year (for a variety of sports), with 60% of that content exclusively shown on the site.

Major Questions

  • Does live streaming increase or decrease number of TV viewers?
  • Should leagues hold onto these rights or include them in packages to networks?

What do you think about live streaming games and these questions?