The pact with the NBA is the third that Buzzer has signed, following recent announcements with the NHL and PGA Tour.
Buzzer’s NBA content, which goes live May 8, will work similarly to what the NBA already offers on its own League Pass, with fans able to pay 99 cents for 10 minutes of game action or $1.99 for a quarter. What makes Buzzer different, Han said, was the collection of rights from multiple sports the company is assembling, and the ability to alert users on their phones for moments and games they have indicated interest in.
Once a fan signs up with Buzzer and inputs their team and player preferences, Buzzer will send a push alert to them indicating key moments. If they are a Steph Curry fan, for example, they could have received an alert when Curry was recently on the verge of passing Wilt Chamberlain as the all-time leading scorer for the Golden State Warriors.
Buzzer is free to sign up for; fans would pay the fees with the click of a button if they follow the alerts.
“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.”
TV ratings for most sports have fallen dramatically over the past year, while the age of the viewing audience for televised sports continues to rise. Leagues are also increasingly concerned about attracting younger viewers.
For now, there are limits to Buzzer’s offerings. The company is limiting the number of people who can sign up, and only out-of-market NBA games not already on national TV are available. (A Wizards fan in D.C. would not be able to access local games, for example.) No playoff games will be available on the platform.
But Han said Buzzer is in discussions with both national networks and regional sports networks to try and increase its library of rights. Han said Buzzer could be attractive to networks because Buzzer’s content could serve as a marketing tool for streaming services like NBC’s Peacock or ESPN Plus, helping fans discover their value.
“Peacock or ESPN could send out their own alerts, but you’re not optimizing for mobile-first or for Gen Z,” he said. “You also won’t find ESPN driving audience to Peacock. It doesn’t solve for the fragmented marketplace for fans.”
Han said Buzzer would split the viewing fees with a network like ESPN, for example, and that offering snack-sized options could help younger fans realize that they might like to subscribe to something like ESPN Plus.
“This is a generation that doesn’t want to subscribe,” he said. “How do you make the subscription palatable to Gen Z?”
Buzzer was founded in January of last year by Han, a former Twitter executive who helped negotiate with leagues like the NFL and Major League Baseball to simulcast some games on the platform. Buzzer announced it raised $4 million last year.
The company’s NHL deal allows it to show users two minutes of every period of every game, including the playoffs, though local blackouts are in effect. The company can offer fans five minutes a day of golf tournaments, per the terms with the PGA Tour.