Long time readers of this site know that I hold a special bit of venom for the folks over at NBA League Pass. It hasn't always been this way.
Two years ago the NBA ran its own on-line operations and I, and this site, actually had a pretty good relationship with LP. We emailed the NBA and told them that we were a website that covered the Wolves and we wanted to cover all of the team's games and they supplied us with a code so that we could watch whatever games were not available down here in Mankato (which, it should be noted, were and are plentiful).
Last year, the NBA outsourced its on-line activities to the goons over at TNT. As if it were not bad enough that you already had to fork over at least $70/month in cable fees to watch the team from the comfort of your living room, the league's broadband services now is attached to a company with a vested interest in ensuring that as many fans as possible pony up for a cable subscription before they can think about broadband. Of course, they don't exactly make this context crystal clear in their description of their broadband service. If you don't have cable and you live in the Wolves' viewing area, you may as well light a stack of bills on fire instead of purchasing a broadband package that will be subject to TNT's blackout rules.
Last year the Wolves had 75 games on broadcast TV (FSN North and Channel 45). If you bought a broadband pass in the blackout region (which encompasses out-state areas like St. Cloud, Mankato, Owatonna, Faribault, and Rochester....you know, the places where people live outside of the Twin Cities) it bought you 7 Wolves games. At about $120 for the package, that's pretty much like going to the arena.
This season, only 55 games will be broadcast on FSN North and 45. Is $134.95 worth it for the 27 games that will be unviewable for cable subscribers? What about the $89.95 package that allows you to pick 7 teams to watch throughout the season? Will there be strings attached? Will all of the games be archived regardless of blackout restrictions? Will TNT still find out a way to make those 27 games unwatchable? Should I just stick with atdhe.net?
I am going to pony up for the full league pass broadband this season to get the 27 games (as well as to watch the Thunder). I'll let you know how it goes throughout the season. That being said, it still is amazing that the NBA has more loyalty to a cable company than to its fans, and that there is no single-team on-line season ticket package. I would have no problem paying $100-300 for a robust on-line Wolves package that I could run through Apple TV or the Xbox 360. I want to pay for the games I'm watching. What I don't want to do is pay twice. Of course the second this happens is the second I cut my cable...and that's probably the rub from TNT's perspective.
More to follow on what you can do to request a'la carte sports viewing.