Sunday’s Warriors v. Kings matchup will be free for Facebook users in India.
The NBA will livestream a regular season basketball game directly to Facebook for the first time on Sunday, but there’s a catch: The game, a matchup between the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings, will only be available to Facebook users in India.
The livestream is tied to an in-stadium promotion from the Sacramento Kings — Sunday at the arena is Bollywood Night. (Kings owner Vivek Ranadive also grew up in India.)
Users won’t need to pay to watch the game, and will see the local Kings and Warriors broadcasts that are usually available as part of the NBA’s International League Pass subscription, according to a league spokesperson.
The stream won’t include commercials, so viewers will see the in-stadium entertainment during stoppages in play. It’s unknown if Facebook paid the NBA to stream the game. A League spokesperson declined to comment on financial terms of the deal, and Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The NBA already streams a lot of content on both Facebook and Twitter, but has never livestreamed an actual NBA game on those platforms. Those games are valuable, and broadcasters like Turner and ESPN pay billions of dollars for the rights to stream them weekly in the U.S.
But the NBA has experimented with livestreaming other basketball content on social platforms before. Over the summer, the NBA streamed some USA Basketball exhibition games ahead of the Olympics on Facebook, and also streams games from the NBA Development League to the social network.
It also has a formal deal with Twitter to stream made-for-Twitter shows on the platform a few times a week, but not games. The NBA also streams one game per week in virtual reality.
The NBA says that this is a one off scenario, not a piece of any larger partnership. But digital platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and Yahoo are all eager to stream professional sports, and it’s possible we’ll see more of these types of deals moving forward.
Twitter just wrapped up its first season streaming some of the NFL’s Thursday Night Football games, and also streams some NBA and NHL games. Facebook has streamed MLB games in the past as well.