YouTube TV announced a major promotional deal with the National Basketball Association, becoming the league’s first “presenting partner” of the NBA Finals in a multiyear agreement that will raise awareness of the fast-growing live TV service with millions of television viewers.
The “Finals presented by YouTube TV” logo will be splashed all over the games, including on the court and in the arena. ABC will promote YouTube TV in commercial spots, and YouTube TV will get “call outs” during the games, which the network will broadcast live, starting on May 31.
Fans will be able to watch every game on YouTube TV, which carries ABC’s live broadcasts and is available in nearly 100 of the top markets, covering more than 85 percent of U.S. households.
“Partnering with the NBA is a slam dunk for YouTube TV members, with more basketball content and the first-ever presenting partner of the NBA Finals,” Angela Courtin, head of YouTube TV and originals marketing, said in a statement.
The deal marks the second time YouTube has selected a sports championship series to tout it subscription television service to a likely audience of millions of TV viewers. The YouTube TV name and red “play” logo were as visible as Dodger Blue during the 2017 World Series, appearing prominently behind home plate and elsewhere.
“The sports sponsorships that they’re doing, I think they’re really beginning to let people know this is out there,” said Colin Dixon, a digital media analyst with nScreenMedia.
Dixon notes this strategy appears to be paying dividends. TiVo’s Q4 2017 Video Trends Report found that 8.5% of people surveyed say they use YouTube TV — remarkable growth for the subscription TV service that launched last April.
“It’s also a great time to be telling people this because I think we are at a turning point in paid TV history,” said Dixon.
Americans are canceling pay TV services at a faster rate than some in the industry expected, with some 22.2 million adults projected to have cut the cord in 2017, according to one estimate from researcher eMarketer.
YouTube is positioned to capture some of these cord-cutters, more than half of whom say they’re dropping service because it’s too expensive. The survey, conducted by LendEDU, puts the average cost of traditional pay TV services at $116.93 per month. YouTube TV costs a fraction of that, at $40 a month.
Dixon believes YouTube TV service likely is sold at a loss to entice subscribers and serve corporate parent Alphabet’s ambitions to gain a foothold in the $70 billion U.S. television ad market.
“This is absolutely pivotal for them they know it,” said Dixon.
Earlier this month, the NBA expanded its relationship with YouTube with the addition of NBA TV, the league’s 24-hour network, which is available to subscribers of the base package at no additional cost. In the coming months, NBA League Pass, the league’s premium out-of-market live game service, will be available for an extra fee.
The NBA and YouTube partnership goes back more than a decade, with the league as the first professional sports league to partner with YouTube and launch its own channel in 2005.
“Our presenting partnership of The Finals marks another first,” said NBA Senior Vice President Dan Rossomondo in a statement.
The multiyear partnership also includes YouTube TV as the presenting partner of The Finals for the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and the NBA G League, the NBA’s official minor league.