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What Sports Would You Pay to Watch Online?

Published on March 10, 2009
by Joseph De Avila

In the online world, where sites like Hulu and TV.com give free access to content, sports video is somewhat of an anomaly. The leagues, networks and other rights-holders that stream live games are among the few mainstream businesses that have been successful at charging people for Web content.

If you ask the sports leagues why they can do it, many say it’s because of their product. There is such an abundance of sporting events that all of them can’t be broadcast on television. But somewhere, someone usually wants to watch those events.

Prices vary–the National Hockey League sells access for $159, while $19.95 gets you a season pass to Major League Soccer’s MLSLive.tv.

Earlier this decade, before YouTube became a household name, skeptics doubted that streaming sports would work. “People at the time said no one will watch video online. Even if they will, they will never pay you for it,” says Bob Bowman, chief executive of Major League Baseball Advanced Media, which operates MLB.tv.

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