LA Clippers unveil expansive streaming service ClipperVision

Nearly a decade after the Los Angeles Clippers were acquired by the NBA, Steve Ballmer is finally realizing his dream of building a bigger and better TV platform for his beloved basketball franchise.

The Clippers are today launching ClipperVision, a regional subscription streaming service that offers six channel options to watch the vast majority of the team’s home and away games – more than 70 of 84 regular-season games. The service costs $199 per season and is mostly available in Southern California. The service’s first live stream concludes on Oct. 22 with an away game against the Sacramento Kings.

One of the six channel feeds will be dedicated to the team’s traditional linear cable TV coverage of Bally Sports. Two others are dedicated to Spanish-language and Korean-language live match coverage – with the Korean team anchored from a studio in Seoul.

Another feed is an alternate view of the game — similar to ESPN’s new spin of “Monday Night Football,” starring Peyton and Eli Manning — dubbed “Ballervision,” which features NBA grads Jamal Crawford, Baron Davis and others hacking live as the game unfolds . Ballmer, known for his over-the-top displays of his love for the Clippers and basketball in general, will also regularly join them to speak out.

Ballmer, who acquired the team for $2 billion in 2014, brought the same energy to a presentation to journalists on ClipperVision and a dry run of a “Ballervision” game broadcast on Oct. 9. Ballmer, Crawford, Davis and former NBA player Paul Pierce gathered at a Davis-owned studio in Mid-City, LA for telecast that evening as the team played a preseason game against the Minnesota Timberwovles.

Ballmer stressed that he’s wanted to create a cross-platform presentation for NBA games since he was still in his days serving as Bill Gates’ No. 2 at Microsoft in the 1990s and 2000s. He sees the slicing and dicing of Clippers content as a form of “gamification” of the viewing experience. He also sees it as crucial to bring Clippers games to a younger generation of fans who don’t have cable subscriptions.

“Now we can transform the sporting experience,” Ballmer said Oct. 9. “And what you see here is what I would call version one.”

The other two feeds also reflect trends in sports, fandom, and technology. CourtVision will provide match coverage with augmented reality augmented real-time stats and facts woven into the gameplay. MascotMode resembles the game’s TikTok presentation, with animations and emoji effects overlaid on key moments (e.g. flames coming from a slam dunk ball).

ClipperVision builds on the team’s research and development over the past four years with its Clippers CourtVision service, which was available in beta mode to approximately 1,000 people as of 2018.

Ballmer acknowledged that gaining the rights to offer the ClipperVision feeds required extensive negotiations with the team’s existing regional sports partner, Ballys (owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group). One solution was to embed the regular Ballys linear feed into the offering – making it a rare example of fans being able to purchase access to a team’s linear TV games on an a la carte basis.

The Clippers will also break new ground for the NBA by being the first to make their dedicated Spanish and Korean language coverage widely available through the NBA League Pass subscription platform.

Bringing Clippers games into the streaming future — albeit at a price — is key to engaging the next generation of fans, Ballmer said.

“We have a few young people who are cable cutters or cable riveters. You can’t be Clipper fans today,” Ballmer said. “If they’re lucky, they can play for a year. But they can’t see our games. And so the idea of ​​both having a product that would be more available and being able to do new things in it, those were the things that got me excited.”

At the same time, Ballmer wasn’t ready to break away from linear television. Not only did the Clippers renew a multi-year pact with Ballys (which paved the way for the launch of ClipperVision) late last month, the team also sought a local TV partner this year for the first time since 2009. The Clippers struck a deal with KTLA-TV Los Angeles to broadcast a total of 15 games this season. As the Clippers move into an expansive direct-to-consumer platform, having the games ubiquitous to local fans is a natural marketing move.

“We didn’t want to leave (linear) television. And that required a lot of negotiations,” Ballmer said. “Now there’s market access for our games that doesn’t just come from Bally Sports.”

Crawford and Davis emphasized that younger NBA players are among those feeling the generation gap because they can’t easily watch Clippers games via smartphones or tablets. Crawford will be a regular presenter on BallerVision television shows; He has performed similar duties on the NBA’s HooperVision television shows, which can be seen on League Pass.

BallerVision will emerge from different locations during the season. Crawford, Davis, Matt Barnes, and Quentin Richardson will be regulars, but they may not be in the same location. Crawford is also joining the studio team for NBA on TNT and NBA TV this season.

“You don’t have to see a wire. You can do it right from your phone between school or basketball practice or school and travel,” Crawford said. “And then you feel like you’re actually sitting there with Baron or Paul or whoever, like you’re just at the barber’s and with your boys watching the game. That’s a different experience. And I think that’s the future. And it’s fitting that Steve and the Clippers are first in the league. Because Steve is a thought leader. There’s just a whole different way of consuming the game.”

ClipperVision’s channel feeds feature Korean-language coverage of Clippers games, broadcast by a Seoul-based broadcast crew.

The Spanish language feed will be accessed by veteran NBA broadcaster Francisco X. Rivera with commentator Roger Valdivieso and guests in the Los Angeles studio. In Seoul, the team will consist of commentator Yong-Gum Jeong, former Korean Basketball League champion Tae-Sool Kim, and basketball reporters Hyun-Il Cho and Dae-Bum Son.

The Clippers’ willingness to experiment and innovate with their TV offerings has been welcomed by the NBA. The launch of ClipperVision follows the massive overhaul of the NBA app subscription streaming service.

“We’re seeing content offerings that show us the potential for direct-to-consumer to holistically merge with NBA fandom,” said Chris Benyarko, NBA executive vice president of direct-to-consumer.

“We encourage all of our teams and our broadcast partners around the world to find ways to deliver content to users in different ways and embrace digital opportunities for personalization. In the longer term, we believe that technology and mobile will allow us to reinvent the experience of a live game.”

Ballmer gushed during his Oct. 9 show-and-tell with reporters that he would like the technology to evolve into a place where the team can have cameras that offer fans the opportunity to get a bird’s-eye view of the game specific player. He credited the NBA and its technical research and development for providing much of the “core technology” that powers ClipperVision. The team also works with live video streaming provider Kiswe.

“Right now I’m thinking about how you can make this even more like the metaverse,” Ballmer said. “It’s just software, as we like to say. How do you synthesize it and let people enjoy the game in new and exciting ways? And we’ll see where it goes and how fast. But now is the time to start.”

The team strives to support and develop ClipperVision over the long term. Ballmer said he has no plans to quickly pull the plug if subscriber growth isn’t robust this NBA season, which begins Oct. 20 for the Clippers with a home game against the Los Angeles Lakers.

“We’re in. End of the story. Period,” Ballmer said of his timeframe for evaluating ClipperVision’s performance.

“This is our life. We present basketball games to people. If we don’t get it right the first time, guess what you do? you do it again And you do it again, and you get better and you get better,” he said. “A month? A year? Not enough time. Five years, ten years, we got it right. Frankly, there are some things at Microsoft that have taken us more than 10 years to get right. And it pays.” a whole lot of bills for a whole lot of shareholders right now, so patience is a virtue as long as you’re willing to kick your ass off.”

(Pictured above: NBA grads Baron Davis, Paul Pierce, Jamal Crawford and Clippers Chairman Steve Ballmer mix it up during the practice run for “BallerVision” on Oct. 9.)

https://variety.com/2022/biz/news/steve-ballmer-la-clippers-clippervision-jamal-crawford-baron-davis-1235405566/ LA Clippers unveil expansive streaming service ClipperVision

Charles Jones

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