Clippers looking for a new TV deal

Clippers owner Steve Ballmer cheers on the players while Clippers guard Jamal Crawford greets fans after beating the San Antonio Spurs in Game 7 of a 2015 playoff series.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

About the only certainty involving Clippers games next season is that their telecasts will be shown somewhere.

The team is mulling not only who will be its broadcast partner but also a variety of technological enhancements that could revolutionize the NBA viewing experience.

The Clippers are considering a so-called second-screen experience that would involve streaming analytical data on a feed separate from the television broadcast of the game.


The team is surveying fans to gauge their interest in such an arrangement, which could involve advanced statistics accessible through an app or a website to complement game coverage and be viewed simultaneously.

Another possibility would be video streaming the game and the analytical data individually. A third alternative would be integrating the data onto the screen as part of the game feed.

The Clippers remain in negotiations with Fox Sports to continue broadcasting games after their previous contract expired at the end of last season. One person familiar with negotiations, but not authorized to comment publicly, said Fox had offered around $50 million a year for one year and was also open to a two-year deal but was reluctant to discuss a long-term contract because of the unknown value of the separate streaming feed, which is unprecedented in the NBA.

The content for the streaming feed would be produced independent of Fox through a third party. Officials from the Clippers and Fox declined to comment. The Clippers’ previous deal with Fox had paid the team about $25 million annually.

Among the issues to be resolved with a streaming feed of analytical data is a price point, the accessibility of the information it provides and consumer interest.

“Some consumers want interactivity, but some just want to watch the game,” said Dan Rayburn, a digital media expert and principal analyst at Frost & Sullivan.

“While we’re all interested in data, there’s the idea that there’s too much data and we’re overloaded as consumers. What consumers typically want is something that’s easy and intuitive.”

One television executive familiar with the negotiations said he anticipated the Clippers re-signing with Fox, their longtime broadcast partner, because of logistics. The season starts in 4 1/2 months, leaving the team little time to secure a new partner or launch its own production company.

The executive also said that Time Warner Cable’s expensive deals with the Lakers and Dodgers, which have resulted in low ratings and unavailability of broadcasts in a wide swath of Southern California, have soured the appetite of other television providers to pay the Clippers significantly more than Fox has offered.

According to Nielsen, the Clippers averaged a 1.04 rating last season on Prime Ticket, meaning they were viewed in 57,000 homes in a Los Angeles market that includes about 5.5 million television homes. That was down 1% from the previous season, when the Clippers averaged a 1.05 and were viewed in 58,000 homes.

For comparison’s sake, the Lakers hit historic lows on TWC SportsNet. Their games averaged a 1.51 rating or 83,000 homes per game last season, down 3% from the previous season, when the Lakers posted a 1.56 rating and were viewed in 86,000 homes per game.

The local ratings gap between the Clippers and Lakers has never been closer.