Joost latest online service to give NBA a boost

By Ken Kerschbaumer

The NBA continues to show an unwavering belief in all-things new media as this week it reached a deal with Joost, giving the peer-to-peer online video service content from the NBA Channel. Joost joins the likes of YouTube, Second Life and other online properties that are delivering NBA content.

“The NBA is always looking to further engage our fans around the world and expand our digital offerings with innovative products like Joost,” says Attila Gazdag, senior vice president of global media distribution for the NBA.

Gazdag says the NBA was attracted to the track record of Joost’s founders and also its blue-chip investors. “It also has a nice user interface but this is really in the spirit of working with new emerging companies,” adds Gazdag.

Joost will have up to 10 hours of NBA Channel content at any one time, including “instant classic” games and highlight packages. Joost requires users to download a software client before they can begin watching videos distributed via a peer-to-peer network.

That makes it a slightly different experience from YouTube or the NBA.com Web site where users simply click and watch. And they are clicking and watching. NBA.com set the all-time monthly traffic record to the site with more than 153 million visits during November, 2007, the first month of the 2007-08 NBA season. The new mark eclipsed the November 2006 total for visits by more than 80 percent and included an increase in visits from NBA fans in North America by 45 percent.

Meanwhile the NBA reports that YouTube viewers have watched more than 50 million video streams since February.

“We don’t believe [other online video services] are competitive or substitutional for our Web site,” says Gazdag. “There are audiences that hang out on the different platforms.”

Gazdag says that teenagers and tweens increasingly multitask from one service to another, watching video on YouTube while taking advantage of the community element at MySpace.

John Acunto, NBA spokesman adds that wide range of deals is complementary to NBA.com. “We’re excited, especially when we see that the NBA content is the third most watched channel on You Tube.”

Yvette Alberdingk Thijm, executive vice president of content strategy and acquisition for Joost says the style, the athleticism and the talent of the NBA thrills fans around the world.
“The NBA has an exceptionally engaged fan base,” says Thijm. “By making games, highlights and shows available on Joost, the NBA is ensuring that its fans can enjoy the action where they want, when they want, while simultaneously interacting with other fans from around the world.”