NBA Extends New-Media Strategy With Joost Partnership
The new NBA Channel on Joost will feature highlight clips and complete replays of classic games, like Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant's 81-point game against the Toronto Raptors early last year, and Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James' sensational performance in Game five of the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals against the Detroit Pistons.
The deal is part of the NBA's larger strategy to embrace new media through partnerships with Yahoo, Facebook and YouTube.
"We want to go where the eyeballs are," said Attila Gazdag, senior vice president of global media distribution for the NBA.
In addition, in May, the NBA launched a virtual headquarters in Second Life, where fans can watch real-time, 3D diagrams of NBA games, shop for NBA-logo virtual merchandise, and mingle with other fans. The world is supported by brand partners, including T-Mobile, Toyota and Cisco Systems.
Still, the NBA's cable partners, ESPN and TNT, represent the league's chief online distribution channels. Each network reached identical deals with the NBA this summer, allowing them to stream games live on their respective broadband outlets, ESPN360 and TNT Overtime. For the digital rights, the networks agreed to pay the league a reported $7.4 billion over the next eight years.
According to Gazdag, the NBA's deals with the cable networks and Joost are hard to compare. "In terms of economics and scale, they're very different," he said.
Joost, founded by Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis--the same entrepreneurs who brought the world Skype and Kazaa--was established to popularize long-form, high-quality, ad-supported content. Since its official launch, some three million people have downloaded its software to their computers.
Some of its other content partners include the NHL, Sports Illustrated, Viacom, Turner Broadcasting and CNN.
In June, Michelangelo Volpi, a seasoned Cisco executive, took on the role of CEO at Joost, while its founding CEO Fredrik de Wahl stayed on as chief strategy officer.
Earlier this year, Joost announced a lineup of 32 major brand advertisers aided by a year-long partnership with Interpublic Group's Emerging Media Lab. The advertisers include Microsoft, Intel, Motorola and Sony Electronics. Separate deals have been made with Hewlett-Packard, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble and Nike.
Also this year, Joost received $45 million in investment from five prominent media and venture capital companies, including CBS, Viacom and Silicon Valley venture capital firm Sequoia Capital.