YouTube In Talks With NBA & NHL For Live Streams, NHL Denies

YouTube is currently in talks with both the National Hockey League (NHL) and the National Basketball League (NBA) about streaming live shows. But will the big leagues bite?

Rumors of YouTube entering the realm of livestreaming started flying last Spring and they officially jumped on the livestreaming bandwagon last Fall. In the months since, YouTube has been streaming as many events as they can get their virtual video hands on, from interviews to award shows and sporting events like the Indian Premiere League (IPL) Cricket games. But YouTube’s coverage of sporting events is about to get a whole lot more intense. According to Businessweek YouTube is currently in talks with both the National Hockey League (NHL) and the National Basketball League (NBA) about streaming live shows.

According to Jun Yang at Businessweek, Google’s director of content partnerships for Asia Pacific, Gautam Anand, said that Google is currently in talks with “most pro sports leagues”, among them the NHL and the NBA. He also said that the video site aims to increase their live sports streams in the second half of 2011. Anand said, “It’s fair to say that there will be a lot more appealing sports content you’ll see on YouTube. We have ongoing conversations with pretty much everyone.”

In addition to the NBA and the NHL, YouTube is also in talks with soccer leagues in Europe, according to the head of YouTube Partnership at Google’s Korean unit, Brian Suh. However, none of these associations or leagues have confirmed that they are in talks with YouTube. Yang writes that, “NHL spokesman Michael DiLorenzo said in a telephone interview that the league is not in talks to stream YouTube content, nor has it been in discussions about it.” Michael Bass, the Senior VP of Marketing Communications at the NBA also did not confirm talks, though he did say, “We’re pleased that YouTube recognizes the value of live sports.”

Google is pretty powerful, but so are the NBA and the NHL, as well as the sports networks that primarily air their games, and even stream their games online. It will be interesting to see if YouTube will be able to get big sports leagues to agree to let them stream their content, to achieve their goal of streaming more live sports by the second half of this year. It could be that YouTube will get streaming rights only in certain countries. For instance, they currently stream Major League Baseball games in Japan, where local television networks do not show them. But if we will see the live streaming of major sports like hockey and basketball in North America has yet to be determined.

If YouTube started streaming your favorite sports live, would you watch them on YouTube as opposed to where you watch them now?