So how much would you pay to see a collection of Reggie Miller three pointers? How about every Pacer play that ended with a Mark Jackson shoulder shimmy? Well, the NBA is working on giving you that option. This New York Times story today reported on the NBA's efforts to digitize their past to provide pay per download highlights to fans.
For this year's playoffs, the NBA is already offering game downloads for $3 per game and there are more options currently available, plus plans for much, much more.
For the moment, users cannot search the clips for, say, every Steve Nash assist, but that is coming. According to Steve Hellmuth, a senior vice president with the N.B.A., league employees are breaking down game films and logging events within each team's possession.
For instance, if San Antonio's Tim Duncan pulls down a rebound and then dunks, N.B.A. employees would tag the video with those two events; in the future, viewers searching for Duncan's rebounds or dunks could quickly find that sequence.
There are about 500 such highlights in each game, and because only humans can log these events, the tagging process is labor intensive. Mr. Hellmuth said the league has about 40,000 games on tape in its archive, mostly from 1990 and later, and about 3,800 have been logged. Those games are already being used by coaches to scout other teams, as well as league executives who review the calls of game officials.
According to the article, the NBA is ahead of other major sports leagues but digitizing archived footage is a hot topic. NASCAR has been in the game for a few years and didn't find much demand for the pay for download model. Now, I love racing but watching footage of a NASCAR race with a known result wouldn't be worth much. Which raises the question: Just how much would you pay for the classic NBA highlight package of your choice? My guess is, not much, at least in today's marketplace. There are plenty of other reasons besides download revenue why the NBA would need to bite the bullet and digitize their 40,000 game collection. The long term preservation and the league's own production uses make it a necessary project. But, hey, if fans can help cover some costs than more power to them. I just want to know how I can pitch in and make a few bucks an hour cataloging Pacer highlights.