Feb 22, 2011, 5:04 PM EDT
NBA games streaming on YouTube? Just a click away from a cat playing the piano?
Google — which owns YouTube — is in talks with the NBA and other major sports leagues, according to Bloomberg.
YouTube aims to show more live sports in the second half of the year, said Gautam Anand, Google’s director of content partnerships for Asia Pacific, in an interview in Seoul yesterday. He declined to give details of the discussions with the NBA and NHL.
Adding live sports broadcasts may help YouTube expand revenue by keeping viewers on its site longer to woo more advertisers. YouTube’s contract to show cricket from the Indian Premier League, which gives the Google unit a share of ad revenue from games and the league’s website, brought in 55 million visits from more than 250 countries, Anand said.
“It’s fair to say that there will be a lot more appealing sports content you’ll see on YouTube,” Anand said. “We have ongoing conversations with pretty much everyone.”
It is possible (likely?) these streaming rights for the NBA would be only international, not in the United States and Canada. At least at first. There are a wide range of rights issues to deal with here. Then again, 15 seconds after anything interesting happens in an NBA game somebody has uploaded it to YouTube (and the NBA leaves it up), so is the leap to live streaming that huge? Currently NBA games can be watched online if you have purchased the League Pass subscription.
But if a deal with Google and YouTube comes to pass it would be a huge step for the NBA as it tries to build its international audience. The chance to watch a Minnesota vs. New Jersey Wednesday night game will certainly win over fans in India as they see what the NBA is really all about. Or maybe cricket is more interesting.
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