The NBA (for the NBA Development League) and Google (via YouTube) has formalized a one-year partnership on Tuesday that would, among other things, allow the NBA to stream over 350 D-League games live on YouTube.
The partnership allows YouTube to stream freely D-League matches on the D-League YouTube channel as well as a video player on NBA.com as well as from the 16 teams that comprise the league on their respective team sites. In doing so, amongst the four major American sports, it would have the most number of live games shown on the video-sharing website
The season and coverage will begin on Friday, November 23, with the Maine Red Claws against the Canton Charge, the Erie BayHawks against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the Tulsa 66ers against the Texas Legends and the Bakersfield Jam against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
The NBA has always been one of the most innovative with their forays with social media to promote itself. Their partnership with YouTube stretches back to 2005, when the league became the first professional sports league to unveil its own channel. With more than 960 million fan views of its videos, it is the most popular sports channel on the site.
The YouTube coverage complements the other avenues that the D-League has in reaching out to its audience, from its television partners in NBA TV and CBS Sports Network, to its free mobile app, NBA D-League Center Court.
NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said that "The NBA’s latest initiative with YouTube marks another milestone in our partnership and a great way to tip off the 12th season of the NBA Development League. By turning to our longtime partner, YouTube, we are able to bring the NBA D-League to basketball fans around the world, further expanding the league’s growth and showcasing future NBA stars.” Scanning the opening day rosters of the 30 NBA franchises shows that 20% of all the players have had D-League experience.
Google / YouTube Global Head of Sports Claude Ruibal adds, “As one of the world’s most popular sports with a broad roster of top prospects, the NBA D-League is a perfect fit for the YouTube platform. With our broad global delivery across all platforms and devices, providing live and catch up NBA D-League games and highlights will make this exciting content easily accessible to a whole new generation of basketball fans.” It is believed to be that this is YouTube's biggest sports broadcasting rights deal to date, although both sides did not disclose the actual figures.