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NBA’s Peloton Partnership Highlights Connected Device Possibilities for Streaming

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The NBA and the WNBA are partnering with Peloton to make their NBA League Pass direct-to-consumer (D2C) game subscription streamable via the fitness company’s connected devices, opening up new possibilities for how streaming services can leverage connected devices to distribute their content.

The basketball leagues announced the partnership Wednesday (Oct. 18), noting that the content will be viewable via Peloton’s Entertainment hub, and Peloton will offer classes themed around these leagues. Plus, Peloton will offer content through the NBA App.

“Peloton is the ideal partner to tip off the launch of NBA Fitness, our new platform to engage our fans’ affinity for health and wellness,” Scott Kaufman-Ross, NBA’s senior vice president, head of gaming and new business ventures, said in a statement. “We look forward to leveraging Peloton’s leadership in the space as we create co-branded fitness classes with both the NBA and WNBA, bring original content to the NBA App and make NBA League Pass available on Peloton devices.”

The partnership taps into consumers’ demand to leverage connected technology to multi-task when it comes to their leisure time, enabling each company to benefit from the other’s audience. PYMNTS Intelligence’s report “How Connected Devices Enable Multitasking Among Digital-First Consumers,” which is based on responses from more than 4,600 U.S. consumers, finds that, among the 76% who used connected devices while engaging in leisure activities, 51% did so to perform additional leisure-related activities.

Plus, connected devices open up a wide range of opportunities for content distribution.

“This newly connected consumer, and the devices and apps they owned and used, created lots of incentives for content creators and distributors to shift their focus to consumers who wanted a diversity of content on demand 24/7/365 with a growing portfolio of connected devices,” PYMNTS’ Karen Webster observed in a feature earlier this month.

The partnership comes as subscription services are challenged to work harder for their customers’ loyalty. The PYMNTS Intelligence study “Subscription Commerce Readiness Report: The Loyalty Factor,” created in collaboration with sticky.io and drawing from a survey of more than 2,000 U.S. consumers with retail product subscriptions, the average number of retail subscriptions per subscriber was down to 2.6 as of April, the lowest number on record since February 2021.

Moreover, when people are unable to pay all their bills, streaming subscriptions are the first to get the axe, according to the PYMNTS Intelligence report “The One-Stop Bill Pay Playbook: Drivers of Consumers’ Bill Payment Priorities,” created in collaboration with Mastercard, which draws from survey of more than 2,100 U.S. consumers.

Sports viewing overall is increasingly circumventing traditional models toward D2C modes and other new methods of distribution.

“Taking our ESPN flagship channels direct-to-consumer is not a matter of if but when,” Disney CEO Bob Iger told analysts on the company’s most recent earnings call. “And the team is hard at work looking at all components of this decision, including pricing and timing.”

Peloton, for its part, is also being challenged to find new ways to connect to consumers. In fact, the decline in engagement has led to Bank of America to downgrading Peloton’s rating to “underperform” due to concerns about the company’s subscriber results, as Bloomberg reported Thursday (Oct. 19).