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NBA to Simulcast Its First Live Event on Facebook With LeBron James

The NBA and Turner Sports are launching the league’s first-ever live event on Facebook this week — but that doesn’t necessarily mean the social giant will be turning into an outlet for live sports broadcasting anytime soon.

The NBA’s “Real Training Camp,” featuring LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday, Oct. 1, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET will be simulcast on the NBA TV cable channel, NBA TV’s Facebook page and NBA.com. The program will show the team’s practice routine, and include interviews with players, coaches and front-office personnel. NBA Digital is jointly managed by the NBA and Turner Sports.

Facebook’s goal is to be a robust video platform for any media partner, and the company today hasn’t shown interest in licensing content. Past events streamed live on Facebook include ABC’s “Oscars Backstage” coverage this past February.

Still, it’s worth noting that this year the National Football League inked a deal with Yahoo to live stream a regular-season game for free over the Internet to users worldwide, the first time the NFL has granted exclusive rights to a digital-only distributor.

Sure, the NFL game, which is being played overseas, isn’t one traditional TV networks really wanted. The matchup between the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars is being played in London on Sunday, Oct. 25, starting at 9:30 a.m. ET. But it could be a proving ground for how the business of live sports broadcasting online works in this distribution model.

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NBA TV, in addition to the Cavaliers’ training-camp special show on Thursday, this week also will air “Real Training Camp” segments with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Milwaukee Bucks and Memphis Grizzlies that will also be streamed live on NBA.com.

“We have a long history with Facebook and are excited to team up with them for another first-of-its-kind initiative,” said Albert “Scooter” Vertino, G.M. of NBA Digital and senior VP of programming, Turner Sports. “Our goal is always to provide the most compelling content for our fans any way they choose to consume it and this initiative will expand the visibility of this quality daytime programming.”

Facebook, which has been aggressively building out its video features and advertising business, this summer launched a live-streaming video service that’s currently only available to celebrities and other verified public figures and media partners.

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