As discussed in the section on Internet partnerships, the joining of forces is rather common and can be beneficial for Official Web Sites. The NFL has signed an agreement with eBay as its online partner and one with Yahoo! to broadcast live audiocasts. Live online games have already been used for NFL Europe games.
But perhaps no league or team is taking advantage of the Internet and its possibilities like the National Basketball Association (NBA) led by Commissioner David Stern. The landscape of the NBA has changed drastically in recent years, with the retirement of Michael Jordan and dwindling attendance and TV figures. However, Stern is moving ahead and taking the league into a new direction with NBA.comTV, a $10 million, 24-hour television channel.
The convergence of the Internet and television allows the League to further market players, in turn increasing revenue. Stern is looking at the venture as an opportunity for "business-to-consumer" sales.
However, NBA.comTV is also an approach that goes beyond marketing and sales. The league also employs its own television crews, which have access to areas where regular media cannot venture. This unique content is a new attraction, taking a viewer or surfer into places where they normally couldn't go, like locker rooms and team buses. The League also has syncTV, where a fan can use a keyword to access his or her favorite player, which then brings up a package of highlights and replays of that player. The NBA's move into converging media could be a sign that the League is looking to become an independent entity, splitting from traditional broadcast partners.
"No question about it, the leagues are all trying to figure out the long-term Internet strategies. It's also clear that the leagues all know more about the Internet than they did a few years back."Michael Levy, President and Chief Executive of Sportsline Inc.