The NBA will live stream a game on Facebook for the first time, but only to users in India.
The league announced today that it will stream the Sacramento Kings vs. Golden State Warriors game this Sunday for free on its Facebook page, as well as those of the Kings and Warriors.
The stream will utilize a new product called “Mobile View,” which the NBA rolled out this season for NBA League Pass subscribers and gives users a zoomed-in, tighter shot of the game optimized for smaller screens. The league uses new cameras installed in NBA arenas and a designated producer.
One reason for the India-only stream is that the Kings are celebrating Bollywood Night on Sunday. Kings co-owner Vivek Ranadive, a long-time tech entrepreneur, is also from India. He’s helped the team test and use more innovations; the Kings also just opened a new high-tech arena.
“Technology allows us to enhance the fan experience — in the arena and around the world like never before,” Ranadivé said in a statement. “Through this groundbreaking live broadcast, we’ll be able to engage new fans, introduce many to the excitement of NBA basketball for the first time, and share the Kings cultural showcase that Sacramento-based fans enjoy every year – through an incredibly powerful network that brings people together.”
Recode reported that the stream won’t include commercials.
This past July, the NBA streamed nine USA Basketball exhibition games on Facebook leading up to the 2016 Summer Olympics.
The NBA is generally known to be forward-thinking compared to other big leagues. This season, it is streaming one game per week in virtual reality; it is streaming pre-game shows on Twitter; and the league also recently inked a long-term deal with Sportradar and Second Spectrum for a new player-tracking system and expanded global distribution of statistics.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver spoke at CES in Las Vegas this week, noting will become easier to watch games — or parts of games — on mobile devices in the future. Silver said the league may get to a point where it will let a fan pay to access a stream for a short amount of time.
“Maybe someone wants to watch the last five minutes and we can set a price for that, as opposed to what they would pay for two hours,” he said. “I think you can take the same great content and make it that much more available to people who want it.”
The NBA and other leagues are rolling out more technology and services to let fans stream games online. The NFL, for example, streamed 10 Thursday Night Football games on Twitter this season.
Facebook, meanwhile, inked a similar deal in 2011 when it partnered with MLB to stream spring training games as a way for the league to advertise its full-season streaming subscription package.