YouTube Taps NBA To Harness Basketball Fan Passion

In its second content partnership with a major professional sports league, YouTube has struck a deal with the National Basketball Association to start a branded NBA channel on the video-sharing portal.

The new section will enable fans to upload videos of their own basketball moves and view NBA highlights and behind-the-scenes footage in an effort to help broaden the league's popularity. Similar to the deal YouTube reached last November with the National Hockey League, fans will also be able to e-mail NBA clips posted on YouTube and embed them on other sites.

"We're really looking at this as a way to tap into YouTube as a tremendous promotional opportunity and engage our fans' passion for the game," said Steve Grimes, vice president of interactive services for the NBA. The centerpiece will be the "Post Up the NBA" feature that allows users to submit clips of their best on-court moves. The best clips, as judged by NBA experts, will be compiled each week into an "NBA Top 10 on YouTube" highlight reel.

Grimes said it hasn't yet been determined whether the NBA judges will include any current or former players.

Under YouTube's "Claim Your Content" program, the NBA will have the option of taking down unauthorized NBA video uploaded to the site, or claim the content as its own and share in any related advertising revenue.

Announced in September, that program was intended to reassure professional content providers such as TV studios and record labels concerned about the risk of piracy on YouTube.

For now, there are no immediate plans to run display or other kinds of advertising on the new NBA Channel since the focus is on using the site as a promotional platform. The NBA.com will remain as the league's primary online destination--offering a wider range of features and content, including the ability for fans to create their own highlight packages.

However, the NBA is separately working with YouTube's parent Google in a test to syndicate video clips on its AdSense publisher network.

Launched last August, Google's video syndication program enables companies to distribute their clips while also monetizing them through ads. Other participants in the video syndication test include Sony BMG, Conde Nast and Dow Jones.

In addition to the NBA and the NHL, YouTube has previously launched branded channels for media companies including CBS, Sony BMG and the Sundance Channel.