In what could be a preview of what watching sports online might be like in the future, the NBA today announced a live streaming deal with Twitch.
Starting Friday, the NBA will live stream up to six games per week from its G League — the NBA’s official minor league — on Twitch, the streaming giant owned by Amazon that is known for streaming video game action but is now expanding to other verticals.
The G League streams will mimic many features that Twitch’s 15 million daily active users already engage with while watching other people play video games. There will be stream overlays that provide stats and the ability to win loyalty points for certain behavior, in addition to “co-streaming” from Twitch personalities and basketball fans. Games will also be available on-demand.
Twitch said this marks the first time for a major sports league to use the platform’s unique streaming features. G League games can be seen on other platforms, including Facebook, but the Twitch integration adds a new layer.
The partnership is not a huge surprise given what NBA Commissioner Adam Silver hinted at in September when he said that live sports should look more like video games.
“Our deal with Twitch will be groundbreaking,” NBA G League President Malcolm Turner said in a statement. “By leveraging fan commentary, new technology and a passionate community, Twitch elevates video in a unique, engaging way that resonates with young viewers. We look forward to collaborating with their team to create something truly special for basketball fans.”
It’s also another example of Amazon’s continued push into live sports. The Seattle-based tech giant also is streaming Thursday Night Football games this season on its Prime video platform, and is reportedly looking to ink more streaming deals.
The NBA, meanwhile, continues to test new technology services. It is streaming weekly games in virtual reality; it is streaming pre-game shows on Twitter; and the league last year inked a long-term deal with Sportradar and Second Spectrum for a new player-tracking system and expanded global distribution of statistics. The NBA is also launching its own esports league next year in partnership with 2K.