Rich media on the internet could be getting another big win if the NBA decides to go through with its plan to stream games to people in local markets. The NBA isn't the first sports league to stream live games, MLB offers a streaming package and the NFL is going to stream some of their national games that are slated for NBC, but this is the first time that local games would be streamed. Traditionally local games are the crown jewels of local television stations because they've basically got a monopoly.
Just as with the Olympics, this could be an interesting experiment to see how a blend of traditional media and new media can affect ratings. As we saw with the Olympics, traditional media still rules the advertising roost. It draws the most viewers, it pulls in the most money, and it isn't going away any time soon. But increasingly content seems to be moving to a "consume it how you want it" model where big content creators (if you can attach that term to the NBA) offer a variety of ways to consume content. I've called these "touch points" in the past but always talked about them in terms of the web. Now big media companies are getting into the touch point game.
In the end, this kind of thing is great for the web. It's the first step in blending the TV and web experiences. A lot of people focus on interactive TV as a next step, but it seems to be moving more in the web direction. People like their TV the way it is, but with the technologies on the web, you can create that interactive content and increase the granularity of your analytics. I think the web-based TV experience will end up being superior than the general TV experience because of RIAs and better data. Keeping it on the big screen is still important but ultimately the web provides better platforms with which to make the most out of video content. I hope other sports leagues follow suit.