After losing a court battle that would bar sports sites from broadcasting real-time professional basketball scores, the National Basketball Association is going one better. The NBA this week tips off NBA.com's third season with audio cybercasts of every game plus an area that gives a detailed account of each game's progress as it happens.
The game-tracker section, dubbed "Game Stats Live," will be joined by the league's first premium club, "Audio League Pass," offering cybercasts of more than 1,100 games this season for $19.95. In addition, three games will be offered free each week in "Game of the Night." League team sites have also been sprucing up their content to include Web simulcasts.
Earlier this year, the NBA took Skokie, Ill.-based Stats Inc. to court, saying its Web broadcast of real-time pro stats amounted to theft. However, an appeals court shot down the case.
Designed by Starwave, Seattle, NBA.com makes its season debut with a dozen advertisers, including newcomers DirecTV, Adidas, Reebok, Topps Trading Cards and arcade game manufacturer Midway.
Gatorade will sponsor the site's first-ever fantasy league, "Virtual GM," offering weekly giveaways. Liz Bardetti, advertising manager of Quaker Oats-owned Gatorade, said that over the last two seasons, the brand has had a 5 percent click-through rate on NBA.com, almost twice as high as its rate on other sites.
DirecTV is making its biggest online buy ever with an eight-month sponsorship of "Week in Review" on NBA.com to promote its pro hoops programming package, the $159 "League Pass." Links will bring visitors to a DirecTV page that details the broadcast package and how to order it, said Tom Bracken, vice president of advertising for DirecTV, El Segundo, Calif.