League Pass: Why It’s Poorly Marketed

If you’re a regular fan of our podcast, you know I gladly take the opportunity to turn my anger on NBA League Pass. Among a slew of issues, one that I hammer on is that how League Pass is marketed and what it is are two different products. Chris Yeh and I discussed both these issues and why it’s unlikely League Pass will change anytime soon.

Mosi Platt (@mia_heat_index) of the Miami Heat Index decided to respond to my comments via Twitter. And being the ardent hater (and paying customer) of League Pass that I am, I figured I’d continue the argument where I get more than 140 characters. Here’s a quick recap of the conversation between Mosi and myself.

My claim is League Pass Broadband and Mobile are essentially sold as a service to watch NBA games. Mosi is arguing the product is clearly a “watch out of market games” tool to supplement those that have cable or sports stations. I disagree. And let’s go to the NBA’s own site!

League Pass Home Page

Notice how you can easily read “Watch all the excitement with NBA League Pass” and “Watch Live NBA games online!” but may have to squint to read the fine print on the bottom?

To be fair, Mosi’s right. It does mention blackouts and locally televised and it even has a link. Let’s see what the NBA has to say about that.

League Pass 2

The NBA decides to mention that some games may be subject to a lockout. And it provides wonderful links to Wikipedia about internet terms. However, after selling you watching all the fun and saying “Hey you might be blacked out.” do they tell you about what that means exactly in a concrete manner? I don’t think so and over 2000 people, voting at NBA.com seem to think this article is not particularly helpful.

Final point, let’s do a quick rundown of the Broadband site itself. I’ll be focusing on the Premium Package, because that’s what I picked up.

League Pass 3

With blanket statements like “Follow your favorite team during the regular season” and “Watch Every Team” it seems unlikely that they’re marketing at hard core fans looking to augment their experience. And the fine print is even smaller now in comparison and further down the page. More space is dedicated to the computer requirements. The click here link leads to the same lovely page I mentioned above!

Summing Up

As I’ve mentioned, for the price NBA League Pass is “Worth the money”.  I essence it gets a C grade from me. But given that the cost isn’t that high, we’ll forgive them. But they aren’t marketing a passable tool that will let you watch games of teams out of your market. They are marketing an awesome tool that will let you watch your favorite team and catch all the games on your broadband device.

To claim otherwise just doesn’t cut it for me. This is using the same small print techniques that both credit card companies and banks have gotten into trouble for recently. And again, if League Pass wants to be sold as “This lets you watch a certain set of games, most of which are out of market, for this price.” then fine. But that’s not how it’s sold and that’s why fans have a legitimate right to be upset.


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