NBA fans without cable will soon have another method of streaming games on their phones.
As reported by Recode, Twitter made a deal with the NBA to start streaming nationally-televised TNT games in February. The first such contest will be the NBA All-Star Game, and the contract extends for 20 games, including at least one in the postseason.
There are a few peculiarities: Twitter will only be broadcasting the second half of these games, and from a limited vantage point. During the first half, viewers will submit their preferences to the @NBAonTNT Twitter account for which player they would like the broadcast to focus on, and then the camera will follow that player for the second-half stream. When that player is on the bench, the Twitter feed will be from a baseline camera behind one of the backboards.
For people who don’t have cable television, TNT broadcasts are among the final frontier of games that cannot be streamed on a cell phone. Watch ESPN and NBA League Pass cover the majority of games, leaving NBA TV broadcasts as the lone holdout. Turner historically has had creative workarounds to broadcast its NBA games on separate platforms, including the TNT website that provides alternate feeds.
Recode also reports that Twitter will likely sell sponsorships for its live streams and split that revenue with the NBA and Turner.
This effort continues Twitter’s foray into broadcasting live sports. It already has a deal with the WNBA that runs through 2019 to stream 20 games per season; those games are shown in their entirety, with full camera angles, graphics, and commentary. Twitter also has agreements with the NFL and MLB to air pre-game studio shows and attempted to get the rights to stream Thursday Night Football before losing to Amazon.