And it's not just a few less appealing ones, but every game carried on ESPN and ESPN2, including the playoffs.
The games will be available on ESPN360.com, which the network has turned into a hub for streams of live events--available free to people whose broadband provider offers the service (17 million homes). The network has split off highlight clips and broadcasts from other ESPN shows--some formerly kept behind a wall at ESPN360--to ESPN.com. ESPN360 also archives games (including the NBA) for replay viewing.
Two pre-season games aired on ESPN360 last Friday. Games will similarly be available on ESPN Mobile TV.
On-air, ESPN will offer games on Wednesdays and Fridays this season, with a bucket of doubleheaders. Some cable operators have raised issues about cable bypass--where content normally reserved just for cable subscribers, such as live ESPN games, migrates to the Internet. That could lead to some subscriber defection.
It could also raise questions as to why consumers pay high fees to ESPN if its programming is distributed elsewhere. (ESPN does try to differentiate the streams on ESPN360 from the network in some fashion.)
ESPN's regular-season games begin tonight. ESPN will also offer the NBA Finals next spring on TV on sister network ABC.