YouTube has struck a deal with the NBA that it will make its live TV service, YouTube TV, a household name.
Specifically, the deal entails that YouTube TV will become the first-ever dedicated streaming partner of the NBA Finals, giving the service a prominent place in the game’s marketing and distribution pipelines – from now on, you’ll hear the NBA Finals referred to as “The Finals presented by YouTube TV” and you’ll see the YouTube TV logo featured on the court.
If that wasn’t enough, you’ll hear YouTube TV said by the game’s commentators and YouTube TV will take center stage during the commercial breaks on ABC.
In addition to striking a deal with the NBA for its finals, YouTube TV has struck the same deal with the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and the NBA G League, which is the NBA’s official minor league.
So, why is YouTube shelling out for all these partnerships? It comes down to cord-cutters and their younger partners-in-crime, the cord-nevers.
YouTube TV for the next generation
YouTube is hoping that by partnering up with big sports franchises – like the NBA during its most anticipated event of the year – the service will gain some traction with younger viewers that don't subscribe to traditional cable services.
YouTube has signed similar deals with the MLB for the World Series – promoting the even as “The World Series presented by YouTube TV” – plus the Los Angeles Football Club and Seattle Sounders FC for potential cord-cutting soccer fans.
It probably doesn’t hurt that YouTube TV is one of the only streaming services with rights the air ABC in over 100 parts of the country, with only one major competitor in the form of PlayStation Vue. (Sling TV will likely air the NBA Finals, but it will be through the NBA League Pass package and not on any of the basic subscription channels.)
Will the NBA Finals be enough to convince millennials to make the leap to streaming TV? It’s a toss up, but there’s a good chance this partnership will help YouTube TV box out the competition. (Sorry, that last one wasn’t my best.)
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