Google’s YouTube in Talks to Stream NBA, NHL Games Live
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Google Inc.’s YouTube is in talks with the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League to show live games, building on the popularity of cricket’s Indian Premier League last year, a Google executive said. Google is in talks with “most pro sports leagues” including the NBA and NHL, as well as soccer leagues in Europe, Brian Suh, head of YouTube Partnership at Google’s Korean unit, said. YouTube aims to show more live sports in the second half of the year, said Gautam Anand, Google’s director of content partnerships for Asia Pacific, in an interview in Seoul yesterday.
Adding live sports broadcasts may help YouTube expand revenue by keeping viewers on its site longer to woo more advertisers. YouTube’s contract to show cricket from the Indian Premier League, which gives the Google unit a share of ad revenue from games and the league’s website, brought in 55 million visits from more than 250 countries, Anand said.
“It’s fair to say that there will be a lot more appealing sports content you’ll see on YouTube,” Anand said. “We have ongoing conversations with pretty much everyone.”
NHL spokesman Michael DiLorenzo said in a telephone interview that the league is not in talks to stream live games over YouTube, nor has it been in discussions about it.
Michael Bass, senior vice president for marketing communications at the NBA, said, “We’re pleased that YouTube recognizes the value of live sports.”
Google shares dropped 3.2 percent to $610.21 in Nasdaq trading yesterday.
Where new live-streaming services will be offered depends on each deal, said Lois Kim, a spokeswoman for Google Korea. YouTube streams Major League Baseball games in Japan, where major TV broadcasters don’t feature the sporting events.
One of the key goals for YouTube this year is to offer longer clips of movies and shows under the lead of former Netflix Inc. executive Robert Kyncl, Anand said. Google also hired Claude Ruibal, former chief executive and chairman of Universal Sports, as the head of sports content partnerships for YouTube this year to boost sports content, Anand said.
Google, which runs the world’s most used Internet search engine, paid $1.65 billion to buy YouTube in 2006. YouTube competes with premium-content site Hulu LLC and rental service Netflix.
During the Indian Premier League broadcast, viewers spent on average 40 minutes watching each match, he said. The company needs to do more to keep its viewers on the site for longer than the average daily 15-minute session, compared with the multiple hours consumers spend in front of televisions, according to Hunter Walk, director of product management at YouTube.
“One of the good things about IPL was that it really proved to a lot of sports leagues that broad-scale live- streaming type of exercise is something that’s possible,” Anand said. “They took notice of IPL and have come to us, and entered into a lot more serious discussions.”
Google is also trying to offer more live-streamed video clips in music, such as concerts, Anand said.
YouTube is running advertisements on videos more than 3 billion times a week, a 50 percent increase from May, Shishir Mehrotra, director of product management at YouTube, said this month.
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