Turner Dials Up Ad Load for NBA Digital

Plan is to deliver live ads to games on NBA League pass, TNT app

As the NBA season tips off tonight, Turner is dialing up its online video ad offerings by letting brands deliver TV commercials into live games as they are streamed on the Web.

The move could mark the first step for networks like Turner to dynamically deliver TV ads just as they do Web ads—i.e., using technology to place ads alongside content, rather than manually placing spots into commercial pods.

In this case however, Turner is placing video ads within games streamed on TNTDrama.com, TNT's mobile apps (Watch TNT), TNT Overtime and the NBA League Pass, the league's digital subscription product. Up until now, fans who streamed games via NBA League pass broadband would not see any ads from these games' local broadcasts.

Plans are not in the works yet for Turner to dynamically insert video ads into the League Pass TV product, but it's easy to see that happening down the road.

"This is almost the promise of the Internet," said Seth Ladetsky, svp for Turner digital ad sales. "This is live super premium sports, and this is the first time we're seeing digital ad insertion like this."

Turner and the NBA have for years offered a Web product aimed at super fans looking to stream games with unique camera angles and other exclusive footage, said Ladetsky. This season, the partners are adding more live games via TNT's site and mobile apps (TNT Drama and Watch TNT), and fans will also be able to stream the network's popular postgame show, TNT Overtime. 

The net result is lots more NBA digital ad inventory. "This takes us from basically one video product to three," said Ladetsky. The company has a slew of ad deals in the works, including commitments from Adidas, Samsung and NBA 2K. "If you look at the scale and execution, this is going to be exactly like TV."