- Google’s YouTube TV will be the first-ever presenting sponsor of the NBA Finals, which will air on ABC starting May 31, according to a Variety report. During the 2018 finals, most viewers will be able to watch ABC through YouTube TV, which is available in more than 85% of U.S. households and 100 top markets, per Variety.
- As part of the deal, a logo with the line “Presented by YouTube TV” will be featured during all finals games, including on the court and in the arena. YouTube TV will also be featured in ABC ad spots and in-game call outs, and YouTube TV branding will appear on NBA digital and social media channels.
- YouTube TV and the NBA did not disclose the length of the deal, but it is expected to run through 2019. The multi-year deal also means YouTube TV will be the presenting sponsor for the Women’s National Basketball Association and the NBA G League, the official minor league.
In the race for TV streaming leadership, YouTube TV is betting heavily on sports to gain a lead, with the sponsorship of the NBA finals just the latest partnership aimed at attracting a following among sports fans by offering them new ways to watch their favorite teams via live streaming, on mobile and with interactive content. YouTube already draws fans seeking sports content, with watch time for sports highlights on the platform increasing 80% last year, according to a Google analysis. Amazon and Facebook are also chasing sports streaming viewers as well as broadcasters like Fox and CBS. Advertising options for this content continue to expand.
When presented with more sports streaming options, sports fans may be tempted to forgo their traditional cable subscriptions in favor of digital options. Access to live sports is keeping 81% of fans as pay TV subscribers, but 82% said they would trim or cut the cord if not for live sports and would be willing to pay up to $23 per month for unlimited sports on any platform, per a PwC survey. The sports viewing landscape is clearly in the midst of a significant upheaval and it could be some time before it becomes clear who the new leaders are.
Google has created several partnerships with sports leagues for YouTube TV recently as a way to attract customers to the platform. YouTube renewed and expanded its deal with Major League Baseball, including YouTube TV as a presenting sponsor for the 2018 and 2019 World Series. YouTube TV also has exclusive streaming deals with Major League Soccer teams, the Los Angeles Football Club and Seattle Sounders FC.
The NBA is also testing a new streaming service that would allow fans to watch the fourth quarter of a live game for 99 cents. The league offers other streaming options, like the League Pass, a season-long package, which will be available for YouTube TV members as an add-on, and NBA Digital, a partnership between the league and Turner, offering a variety of subscriptions. YouTube TV also added NBA TV, the league’s 24-hour network, to its base package, according to Variety.