The NBA announced yesterday that will follow the NHL and MLB and syndicate content to Joost. Select classic games and highlight packages are now available on the peer-to-peer video service, but the content is limited and will be for the foreseeable future.
Sports programming is most valuable if current, but there is also a market for classic games, and such evergreen content is particularly suited for the web. ESPN Classic has been able to stay in business for this reason, and if the NBA can sell online ads on games and highlights that would otherwise not see TV airtime, it’s a win-win.
Above: NBA Content on Joost
The larger question is what long term value Joost can offer the NBA and other leagues still trying to figure out how to make money on the web. ###
While they experiment with services like Joost, they have been cautious not to cannibalize their existing audience on TV and league-run websites.
For the NHL, plagued by audience issues, partnering alternative distributiion makes a lot of sense; in addition to Joost, they have aggressively sought deals with slate of sites including YouTube and SlingMedia to distribute content everywhere fans are. MLB, on the other hand, has no domestic audience issues, but has used Joost to offer MLB playoff games on-demand to build their international audience.
Joost offers a good method for delivering content to a tough-to-reach audience, or to re-purpose otherwise unusable content. It offers a better video viewing experience than MLB.com or NBA.com, but is no alternative to the extensive content offered on the websites. Unless Joost builds a larger audience, there’s no incentive for leagues to build a presence there.
Joost’s high profile has enabled them to sign on advertisers and content partners, but they remain a massive niche content service. Until Joost can put up the dollars necessary to get desirable content, they will remain low on the list of sites to watch sports online.