With the start of the NBA season on the horizon, the Clippers and Fox Sports Prime Ticket announced Wednesday that they had finally reached an agreement to extend their exclusive television deal.
The deal will earn the Clippers around $50 million to $55 million per season — which just about doubles the $25 million annually Prime Ticket paid the team in the previous deal — according to officials who were not authorized to speak publicly about the contract. The Clippers and Fox agreed to a six-year deal, with both sides having options to open new discussions after two seasons.
The Clippers will also offer digital products to their fans, something that Clippers owner Steve Ballmer has yearned to do to give his fans a new-age experience of innovative offerings. It will be on a trial basis and “targeted to number of fans,” the Clippers said in a news release.
The idea behind the creative interactive service is to “erase the bridge between in-game and watching it at home,” one official said of Ballmer’s goal behind establishing this service.
The hope, the official said, is for fans to watch Clippers game digitally and feel like they are in the arena.
The start date for the in-market tests will be sometime this season.
The Clippers open training camp Monday and play their first exhibition Oct. 4 at Golden State.
The Clippers play their first regular-season game Oct. 27 at Portland.
A Los Angeles Times story in June reported that the Clippers averaged a 1.04 rating last season on Prime Ticket, according to Nielsen. That meant they were viewed in 57,000 homes in a Los Angeles market that includes 5.5 million television homes.
But the Clippers, whose deal with Fox ended after last season, now will be back with Prime Ticket for a 21st season.
“It is exciting for us to continue our relationship with Fox Sports Prime Ticket,” Gillian Zucker, the Clippers’ president of business operations, said in a release. “Our new partnership provides us the ability to pursue Steve Ballmer’s vision of developing revolutionary digital products while continuing to supply our fans with the comprehensive Clippers coverage and distribution Fox Sports Prime Ticket has provided for over 20 years.”
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