The NBA has quietly rolled out a new video download store that offers playoff games from this season and last.
The NBA Download Store is open for business and offering single game downloads for $2.99, full playoffs for $79.99, and individual series for $12.99. Games are not permitted to be burned onto a DVD, and may be downloaded to a maximum of 3 separate PCs or portable media player devices. For reasons unknown, it's oddly available only to users in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico for the time being.
In addition, the NBA Download Store is not yet available to Mac users because the Windows Media DRM used to secure content from unauthorized usage is not yet supported on the Mac platform. The minimum requirements for the store are Windows Media 9 or higher, Windows XP OS, Internet Explorer 5.5 and above, and a broadband Internet connection.
According to Steve Grimes, who, as the league’s vice president of interactive services, oversees NBA.com, early sales have been “promising.”
“It’s not a big surprise: great games and surprising results have driven the most popular downloads,” Mr. Grimes said. For instance, he said, the hotly contested series between the Golden State Warriors and the Dallas Mavericks has sold well, as has the final game from last year’s championship series between the Miami Heat and the Mavericks.
The download's appeal will be augmented by the fact that they will be commercial and timeout free, offering nonstop action from start to finish.
Added appeal will be be an interesting new feature to debut some time in the near future that will allow users to search downloaded content using event tags. NBA techs will break down each game and tag events as they occur. Users will then be able to search for shots scored, assists, rebounds, etc., of each player and then quickly be able to find and view that segment of video footage.
There are about 500 such highlights in each game, and because only humans can log these events, the tagging process is labor intensive. Mr. Hellmuth said the league has about 40,000 games on tape in its archive, mostly from 1990 and later, and about 3,800 have been logged.
“We’re getting slowly to our older games, but we’ll be focused 100 percent on that this summer,” Mr. Hellmuth said. It will take about eight years before all 40,000 games are digitized and logged. Mr. Hellmuth declined to discuss the cost of the project. “We view this as a mission we have to execute for the fans,” he said. “The revenue side of it comes second.”
Added features like event searching are what will make or break the NBA Download Store. Users have a variety of options to acquire content for FREE on their own but, if the service is able to combine ad and timeout free content with a searchable event tag capability it just may win over users and make them customers of the new service.