Casual basketball fans in the US will be jumping for joy with the latest trial of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The organisation is testing a new micropayments live streaming offer where fans can watch the fourth quarter of a live, in-progress game for $0.99.
Basketball fans already have a variety of streaming options available to them, but each has its own limitations. Pay-per-game or one-team packages can be too limited in their scope, while the NBA’s full League Pass with a monthly subscription of between $18 and $40 is out of reach for many, except for the most passionate basketball fans.
Consumers increasingly look for easily accessible content that can be consumed wherever and whenever they want it. Micropayments can deliver on all those things, especially when supported by a mobile-first approach – Direct Carrier Billing. People can charge for one-off pieces of content directly to their mobile phone bill, making it a quick and seamless process that doesn’t involve wasting time filling out credit card details.
For basketball fans, the NBA’s trial enables them to watch the crucial fourth quarter of any given game. It could also attract larger audience numbers to other pivotal games, for example when a player reaches a momentous point in their career or has a chance of breaking a record.
For the NBA, micropayment livestreaming is expected to create a significant revenue stream, mirroring a trend we are seeing in the the video gaming industry. When Activision Blizzard announced their record financial results for 2017 it revealed that microtransactions accounted for more than half of total revenue.
Whether micropayments in professional sports will overtake other revenue streams remains to be seen. However, they could be an important first step towards gradually guiding casual fans towards a regular subscription package.
With the rise of Video-On-Demand and OTT, audiences have become much more fragmented and traditional, linear TV broadcast viewing figures have gone down. It’s encouraging that the NBA is exploring new ways to make sure that the all-American sport of basketball remains relevant in our digital world for years to come.
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