The National Football League and National Basketball Association announced they will offer free previews of their subscription digital products to fans free of charge amid the absence of any live sports during the global Covid-19 pandemic.
NFL Game Pass will be offered until May 31 to fans within the United States, and until July 31 to fans outside the US and Canada. It includes access to archived regular and postseason games, previous seasons of NFL Films series such as Hard Knocks and A Football Life, and exclusive film sessions.
With the 2019-20 NBA season on hiatus, the NBA and Turner Sports are providing fans with a free preview of NBA League Pass, the league’s premium subscription-based product, until April 22. It includes archives of classic games and other content.
“Limiting social interactions is a critical way to minimize the spread of this virus, but staying home for long periods of time can be difficult,” the NBA said in a statement.
Sports broadcasters are grappling with how to fill their schedules in the absence of any live sports for the foreseeable future.
Burke Magnus, ESPN executive vice president of programming, acquisitions, and scheduling, said the US sports media giant is trying to nimbly deploy a combination of talk and studio-based shows, archival content, and special events to help deal with the unprecedented, virus-fueled programming need.
“The challenge is that now we need to replicate that dynamic 24 hours a day, seven days a week across multiple networks,” Magnus said. “That’s what is in front of us in terms of long-range planning.”
Already, flagship news and talk programs such as SportsCenter, Get Up, and First Take, are taking more even prominence in ESPN’s schedule, taking up the vast bulk of daytime programming on both ESPN and ESPN2.