Monday, February 28, 2011

Following the NBA in Europe

So you’re a hoops head, but you’re 6, 7, maybe 10 hours away from the preferred starting times of the game’s top practitioners. You love Kobe and KD. Or perhaps follow one of the Eastern Conference’s big trios. The question is, how to get your roundball fix on this side of the pond?

Unfortunately, for most of us, it’s not as simple as signing up for ESPN America. It’s the most conspicuous absence from their stellar lineup (MLB, NFL, NCAA football and basketball, NHL) of both live and tape-delayed sporting events. There are other cable-based options, depending on which country you’re residing in. Germany, for instance, has recently struck a deal that ranges across several channels, a mix of paid subscriptions and free-to-air that includes ProSieben, Premiere, sports channel DSF, SAT.1, ARD, ZDF and RTL. Whether or not that option then forces some less than stellar German commentary upon the viewer has yet to be made clear (hopefully it’s better than the German language broadcast of NFL play-by-play that we get here in Austria…

Of course, being that this is the age of the internet, we’re certainly not limited to the meager offerings on the boob tube. Streaming options range from the “free but morally questionable” offerings of MobiTV, Veetle, Sopcast, stream torrents, etc, on up to the NBA’s own league package for Europe (a very reasonable $110 US for the entire regular season, every game from every club, or several other similarly priced offerings for more enhanced options, playoffs extra).

Personally, I’ve opted for the NBA’s online package (at the price/level mentioned above). The big benefit to me, other than consistency and quality, both of which are quite solid, is the time-shifting option. I rarely stay up late for games, with possible exceptions come playoff time. And this isn’t the NFL we’re talking about, with Euro-friendly 7pm start times on the weekend. So being able to watch games the next day, be it morning or evening time, is great. For a few more bucks, one can have access the entire season’s archive, but that just didn’t appeal to me, when there’s always a new game upcoming. And the price was quite reasonable, if one makes use of it. You could follow your home team for about $1.25/game, or spread the love around a bit and have it come out even cheaper. Quite a deal, especially when compared to the NFL’s exurbanite rates for far fewer games.

So, what do you think? Anyone else out there who’s putting hard-earned cash on the line to watch some ball, or is everyone focused on spring training?


  1. Panda 3 run homers in back to back games. ;-)

    How's the NBA package streaming quality? My problem with NFL or MLB is it's still not quite fast enough to hook up to the TV and watch smoothly.

  2. I'll admit, I've mostly watched the delayed games, and then on my PC monitor, which is hard-wired. There, the quality is excellent. Then again, I usually received similar quality on MLB/NFL with that setup (again, watching mostly with a delay). One of these nights when I'm up late, I'll check and see how the streaming compares...