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Buzzer to Stream Live NBA Content: 99 Cents for 10 Minutes, $2 per Quarter

Derek Walborn

Buzzer, a recently launched mobile platform catering to live sports fans who favor highlights over full broadcasts, has nailed down a deal with the NBA enabling fans to watch parts of live games on their phones and be alerted to any developments pertaining to their favorite teams and players. The agreement follows similar links Buzzer has forged with the NHL and the PGA.

While astute basketball fans may notice that Buzzer works similarly to NBA’s League Pass, with fans able to pay 99 cents per ten minutes of live game footage or $2 a quarter, Buzzer is hoping that its built-in alerts and the fact that it covers a variety of other sports make it a more robust package.

Buzzer’s offerings are currently limited. Only a certain number of people can sign up, and only out-of-market NBA games not already being broadcast on national TV are available. Additionally, no playoff games will appear on the service.

However, Buzzer CEO Bo Han assures users that talks with networks are ongoing. He is positioning Buzzer to be something of a “gateway service” that ESPN Plus or NBC’s Peacock might use to showcase their platforms to younger audiences as the average age of televised sports viewers continues to rise.

Buzzer isn’t looking for long-haul viewers, and Han is focusing his product on the Gen Z market, a notoriously difficult group to monetize due to what seems to be an aversion to the commitment of a full-blown subscription. We also know that the appetite for watching full games appears to be dwindling, with many fans preferring to watch only highlights or 4th-quarter action.
No stranger to the motivating power of small doses of addictive media, Han is the former Director of live content at Twitter. He hopes that Buzzer’s offerings of bite-sized content might persuade younger sports fans, more accustomed to consuming highlights through social platforms, to subscribe to other services.

“This is a generation that doesn’t want to subscribe,” he said. “How do you make the subscription palatable to Gen Z?”

His strategy is unique. A fan signs up for the platform, and inputs their team and player preferences. Buzzer will then alert the user to any must-see moments that feature their favored key words. Fans can sign up for free, but to see what all the alerts are about they’ll have to pay to see the clip.

“We’re taking a lot of cues from the gaming industry,” Han said. “They are digital goods, where games are free with micro-payments built in.”

While “micro-transactions” remain one of the most maligned developments in gaming in recent years, with developers both apologizing for their past presence and advertising their future absence in upcoming titles as if its a feature, it’s still to be determined if the idea is more palatable when presented via a service that is initially free.

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