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The NBA Is Developing a Streaming Service with Microsoft

The NBA's upcoming streaming service will use machine learning to deliver personalized game broadcasts and other tailored content.

Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum pushes the ball upcourt against the Sacramento Kings during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, OrePistons Trail Blazers Basketball, Portland, USA - 07 Mar 2020

Portland Trail Blazers

Steve Dipaola/AP/Shutterstock

The NBA is developing a streaming service with Microsoft as part of a new, multiyear pact between the two entities. The league and Microsoft announced Thursday they are developing a direct-to-consumer service that will include NBA League Pass, the $99.99-per-year subscription service that provides access to out-of-market games. There is no ETA yet on when the service will launch.

Variety reported that the service will feature a tiered rewards system where users can earn “loyalty points” when they watch games, share content, or purchase various content. Those loyalty points could potentially be used to get discounts on perks ranging from merchandise to tickets or the NBA League Pass.

The upcoming basketball platform, which is being made on Microsoft’s Azure cloud service, also has significant machine-learning and artificial-intelligence elements: The league says the service will leverage those tools to deliver personalized game broadcasts, while the NBA’s various statistics, data, and archived content will be curated for individual users.

Per an NBA statement, fans will be able to set up an account and enter their preferences — whether it’s a favorite team, favorite players, or interest in statistics, history, trivia, or gaming — in order to provide some direction to the content the platform provides.

“This partnership with Microsoft will help us redefine the way our fans experience NBA basketball,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “Our goal, working with Microsoft, is to create customized content that allows fans — whether they are in an NBA arena or watching from anywhere around the world — to immerse themselves in all aspects of the game and engage directly with our teams and players.”

The upcoming NBA streaming service will mark the latest effort to make sporting events more accessible for cord-cutters. Major League Baseball already has its own MLB at Bat streaming app, and also runs the MLB.TV subscription service, while Hulu + Live TV offers access to various sports leagues — albeit for a significantly higher cost than a standard Hulu subscription.

Though the current NBA season, like most other entertainment events and productions, has been halted due to the ongoing pandemic, the NBA recently began offering its NBA League Pass for free through April 22.

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