NBA, Intel team on interactive deal

Intel's Convera unit will handle league's account

The National Basketball Assn. and semiconductor maker Intel Corp. will team up to produce broadband interactive content for the NBA’s various online presences, the two entities announced in a press conference at Gotham’s NBA Store Wednesday.

Intel’s interactive services unit Convera, the joint venture between the chip maker and Excalibur Technologies, will handle the NBA account.

In an unusual move for a sports league, the NBA also will take a 10% equity stake in Convera.

Archival content

The new content will include access, on a subscription basis, to more than 50 years of archived NBA and WNBA data, articles, audio and, eventually, video clips on the Web, said NBA commissioner David Stern.

The league will also offer enhanced TV content, such as player bios and statistics, concurrent with game broadcasts.

“We’ll be taking the traditional NBA video experience and giving it life in the digital world,” Stern said.

Initially, the content created will be limited to distribution on home computers as enhancement to television broadcasts, but that could evolve to include interactive television programming, as the technology develops, he added.

Finalized in fall

The creation of Convera is expected to be finalized this fall, following the consummation of the Intel-Excalibur venture.

The NBA is the nascent company’s first announced client, but the company plans to expand its offerings to other leagues. Convera will focus initially on the professional sports arena only, said Intel senior VP Ronald J. Whittier.

So far, however, “the NBA has been way ahead of all the other leagues in articulating the opportunity for this new medium,” Whittier said.

The NBA has long been a first-mover in the sports field with regard to online ventures. Last fall, the league bowed TV, a 24-hour online television network dedicated exclusively to pro basketball news and highlights.

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