NBL.TV: Do or die for Aussie Basketball
As I raced home Friday afternoon to catch the New Zealand Breakers taking on the Perth Wildcats in the opening round of the NBL season, it wasn’t long until the realisation set in that this would not be the night I’d be cheering for my beloved champion winning team.
Was I naive to think that maybe, just maybe Network Ten might be so generous to showcase the opening match in what was a repeat of last year’s grand final?
It appears that yes, I was indeed delusional because as I flicked to ONE HD I was left to find a repeat of M*A*S*H instead of live basketball.
Now to counteract this problem and the previous inaccessibility to live NBL games, we have now been introduced to NBL.TV. The idea is an Australian first, where we as fans have the ability to watch every game of the National Basketball League Championship live and in full over all media platforms.
For a small price, obviously.
For the debatable cost of $19 a month/$79 a season, you can watch all four games a week live (bit irrelevant now though when Network Ten have come to the table and will show one live Sunday game a week).
So theoretically you are paying $19 to view only nine live games a month.
This causes me to frown.
Not that we can even begin to compare, but the NBA gives fans in Australia the option to stream live games for the cost of roughly A$27 a month. The obvious difference is that you get a whopping 40 to 50 games in any given week. 40 to 50 per week!
That’s huge dunk for your buck.
Now I support and love our National Basketball League, but choosing to only air one live game on free-to-air per week is surely a hindrance to an already struggling sport.
In over five years the NBL has gone from 13 teams to only the current eight. This year we witnessed the folding of the Gold Coast Blaze, citing financial difficulties even after declaring they originally had a $500,000 cash injection from a mystery backer.
The sad reality of basketball downunder is that we simply don’t have a strong enough competition, partly due to the fact that any decent player will eventually sign to a team in the US or Europe in the search for an NBA contract.
So why make it even more difficult for fans to keep interested when you take it to online viewing only?
With only the modest four NBL games a week, how could they not have worked out a deal to show them all on TV, even if only two were on free-to-air and the remaining two on pay TV?
Imagine the potential for new fans, not to mention the exposure for the sport itself.
The way the Breakers have been marketed in New Zealand brings enthusiasm to the sport. Now I know New Zealand only have the one NBL team so their fan-base does have an advantage. This was reiterated with a sell-out crowd of 4000 at last week’s game.
SKY Sport have an agreement with Basketball Australia that over these next three years they will show all Breakers home and away games on SKY Sport, including any finals.
I feel as though here in Australia every season the promoters of the NBL get it wrong.
NBL newly appointed CEO Kristina Keneally recently made the following statement on the new digital move.
“This deal truly puts us ahead of the pack: basketball is the first sport in Australia to give fans such comprehensive digital access to live sports content on-the-go.
More Australians than ever will now be able to see the NBL, with access to every game of the iiNet NBL Championship season live across multiple platforms on NBL.TV”.
I disagree, I believe more Australians would be watching if coverage was shown on actual television. I don’t know how many youths with a passion for basketball are going to be able to convince their parents to fork over $79.
Yes it certainly does have the benefit of retaining control of its own product therefore benefiting first hand the revenue generated, but again I ask is this going to be enough to further promote the sport throughout Australia, or just keep the NBL headquarters ticking over?
I’d be interested to know how many subscribers NBL.TV has so far and if it will indeed be viable over the coming years.
Let’s hope for the game’s sake that it survives and starts to really get Australian basketball back on its feet.
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