NBL goes it alone for broadcast deal
Basketball Australia has taken a different path than other sports codes in this country, deciding to embrace digital platforms and the demand for live sport.
BA has announced an NBL.TV service where every NBL game will be broadcast live for mobile, tablets, PCs and IPTV. For $79 a season, hoop fans will able to watch every NBL game on all digital platforms.
Boomers and Opals games will also be show on NBL.TV but these may not be live and will be subject to TV deals.
Still, I think this is an impressive, gutsy move by BA and the NBL, and could be a real coup. As Kristina Keneally, the head of Basketball Australia, said this is a landmark deal for Australian sport and could become a moneymaker for the NBL.
The question is – how much? At this stage it is hard to say. The NBL is a competition struggling for fans, dollars and corporate support. If it could get tens of thousands of people to sign up for a season pass, it could be on to a real winner.
But by having every game live and available of all digital platforms, they have sought to increase their visability and their attractiveness to sponsors. It could actually start a surge in the NBL’s popularity, as well as helping their coffers. Having a Sunday TV game live back on Network Ten is a plus to this deal and gives it some balance.
As I’ve written before – especially concerning Nine’s Olympics coverage – fans want their sport live. An hour delay or five minutes delay, it doesn’t matter, it’s now too late. In this digital information age sports lovers want it live and on the platforms they use.
This means smartphones, tablet devices, laptops and the like. Giving consumers – basketball supporters – want they want is a good move. This is something the NRL has recently not taken into consideration enough.
Recent moves by the ABC to cut back on coverage on the WNBL and W-League shows that TV broadcasters are out to shed their costs, and that ratings (even on public broadcasters) are all-important. The sports themselves need to get their own houses in order, get with the times and embrace the digital era. They need to take control of their own destinies.
Rumours surround the future of the ABC’s coverage of Sydney’s Shute Shield rugby competition, that it is headed for the axe.
Whether it’s dumped or not, this should be wake-up call to the likes of the ARU to start offering rugby fans a digital option to consume their games.
The NRL has just picked up a billion dollar deal to go with the AFL’s billion-plus arrangement. At the same time media owners, especially the TV networks, are losing money hand over fist. While the dominant sports might be now rolling in cash, it means the amount of dollars available for other codes is dwindling.
There is not a bottomless pit.
If the likes of FFA and V8 Supercars can’t get top dollar for their own content from pay TV and free-to-air networks, they need to think out of the box and heed the demand for live, digital sport. Basketball Australia has done it and should be applauded.