LiveBasketball.TV, the primary streaming service for Euroleague, has ended it’s relationship with Euroleague and it leaves Europe’s biggest basketball league with a ticking clock to find a new home according to Emmet Ryan
It wasn’t even a press release. As an affiliate of LiveBasketball.tv, I received a notice from the service this afternoon saying it was going to cease providing Euroleague with immediate effect. Most of the rest of the text related to moving banners and the like. There wasn’t some grand statement, just a list of what it also shows.
The natural first reaction is to assume this is part of the FIBA vs ULEB war and FIBA content holds serious value for the provider. The Australian NBL however has also been dropped which, on the face of things at least, has essentially no dog in the fight. While the move may in fact be wholly removed from the war, it will have an impact. Euroleague needs a new home and really fast. Network testing etc is no light matter but there are at least viable partners. Laola1 screams as the smartest partner to go with as they already have proven a solid distributor of Bundesliga Basketball but their price point is much lower than what Euroleague would expect for its package. That means there could be a direct impact on a reasonably significant portion of the league’s income and a huge driver of its discussion online.
Of course, much of that discussion wasn’t exactly positive about the outgoing service provider. Complaints about specific commentators were plentiful but the big gripe had nothing to do with the on-air talent. Every Thursday and Friday night, you could expect oodles of viewers from around the world complaining about their inability to watch games due to streams dropping, freezing, or completely cutting out. The screen would go black and a circle with a broken circle rotating around it would show. Euroleague was far from the only competition to serve as complaint port central, EuroBasket 2013’s final and the opening couple of days of the 2014 FIBA World Cup were beset with problems but viewers subscribed regardless because it was the only show in town.
Now FIBA has not only the benefit of Euroleague leaving the destination most associated with streaming basketball but it almost certainly will have the opportunity for its competition that is replacing EuroChallenge (we’re still waiting on a name) to access a subscriber base.
Euroleague could strike its own deals with Laola1 or another provider but any deal will require lawyers, accountants, and a whole bunch of other people to get paid while it gets worked out and the clock is ticking. There is an option for Euroleague that would prove a bold move but one that would be taking a leaf out of FIBA’s book. Much of EuroChallenge, along with youth tournaments, got streamed on YouTube and FIBA still uses the service heavily for live broadcasts. Euroleague would have immediate access to a major source of online content and could try all sorts of approaches to monetise. YouTube can be used for paid broadcasts, not as well known a feature as you’d think, occasional one-off free broadcasts, and geo-blocking is relatively straight forward. It sounds great but, again, it’s an issue of time and getting all the various pieces of work required to get it up and running that is against the crew in Barcelona.