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NBA TV Scores Multiyear Distribution Deal With DirecTV

DirecTV has netted a multiyear agreement with NBA TV that will expand distribution of the pro basketball league's in-house service on the No. 1 DBS operator.

The agreement, terms of which were not disclosed, will see NBA TV move to DirecTV's Choice Xtra package from its Premier Package and Sports Pack, tipping off with the 2009-10 NBA season next fall. As such NBA TV will be moved to channel 216 from channel 601 as part of the extended partnership, which should result in it being available to an additional 8 million DirecTV homes.

Through this new pact, DirecTV, which has carried the service since it tipped off in 1999, will increase NBA TV's distribution, providing the network in standard and high-definition, while continuing to provide the out-of-market NBA League Pass to its customers. As part of the subscription package, fans will have access to games online at no additional cost through NBA League Pass Broadband.

The deal, the first since the NBA partnered with Turner Sports in January 2008 to create NBA Digital with the Atlanta-based company responsible for operating the network's programming, production and marketing, as well as managing and NBA League Pass and its broadband offshoot.

The DirecTV pact is not expected to be the last renewal. An NBA spokesman said the league, which handles affiliate distribution, is in negotiations with other key carriers, a roster that includes Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Cox and Dish Network.

Moving from sports tiers, NBA TV, which currently counts some 12 million homes, hopes to expand its base to 30 million before the start of the 2009-10 campaign.

Published reports have indicated that NBA TV was willing to drop its license fee in order to secure better positioning.
The NBA would not discuss license fee, but did say that the league continues to retain 100% ownership of the network.

"As we continue to enhance the programming lineup for NBA TV, we are delivering a valuable product to meet the demand of our consumers, distributors and advertisers," said Bryan Perez, senior vice president/general manager, NBA Digital, in a statement. "By delivering more games, insightful and entertaining studio shows and compelling features, as well as increasing fan engagement through such innovative initiatives as Fan Night, our goal is to continue to be the destination for basketball enthusiasts."