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NBL scores a big win with TV deal

Melbourne United, with Cedric Jackson take on the New Zealand Breakers. (Image: AAP, Travis Anderson)
Expert
3rd September, 2015
18
1150 Reads

Yesterday, an ad popped up in my Twitter feed. It was for Foxtel. It boasted that every NBL game this season would be live on Fox Sports.

Even forgetting the every game live part, the existence of that ad alone would have been enough to get NBL fans excited.

A broadcaster willing to go out of its way to promote the league? That has been missing in recent years and it wasn’t something that went unnoticed.

But if such early indications are to be believed, it’s one of the perks of the NBL crossing over to pay TV with the new deal announced yesterday.

Those perks include every game of the season being broadcast on a television platform for the first time ever.

Those perks include the security of a five-year deal, albeit with a review at the end of the first season.

Those perks include giving sports fans who don’t currently tune in the ultimate carrot – live sport on their TV screens four nights a week.

Those perks include the ability to simulcast a game each week to a free-to-air network.

Those perks include HD basketball and the overall attention to detail that comes with a Fox Sports presentation.

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Those perks include every game live.

It’s a good outcome. Some have questioned the current lack of a free-to-air partner, but TV deals need to be looked at through the prism of the NBL’s bargaining power.

You suspect other broadcasters weren’t tripping over themselves. For where the league is at, getting every game on a TV platform is a step forward, as are the other perks.

Credit here has to go to the league for coming up with the new TV-friendly schedule.

The NBL took a gamble with its fixture by placing a higher priority on getting into people’s lounge rooms than getting people into stands. They added weekly Wednesday and Thursday night games, despite the effect such games have had on attendance in the past.

It was a ballsy move, but a necessary one. The next step is to continue the run of TV-minded decisions with a focus on creating truly engaging television.

If that can happen, the bargaining power may be improved next time around. (That’s important because for all the positives of this deal, it appears the NBL has had to open its wallet to make it happen.)

The final benefit to this deal will be the injection of positivity it provides.

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As we’ve alluded to, fans were happy to voice concerns about the last TV deal. With a change of leadership, even the NBL itself seemed to disown it.

I didn’t like that attitude. Free-to-air expoure saw the viewing audience of the NBL grow at a time the league was in desperate need of growth. The numbers validated this.

Again, I would simply say TV deals need to be looked at through the prism of the NBL’s bargaining power. There’s no reason the last deal couldn’t have been a good decision for that time and this deal a good decision for this time.

Either way, a lot of negative voices around the league were silenced yesterday and that’s not a bad thing.

And if people still want to be negative, we can refer them to Crocodiles star Brian Conklin.

“We only had three games on television last year… so to have all 28 live on television is going to be awesome,” Conklin told the Townsville Bulletin.

Now the countdown to October 7 can start and on that front, the clubs have certainly played their role.

With big names like Chris Goulding, Nathan Jawai, Julian Khazzouh, Kevin Lisch, Kirk Penney, AJ Ogilvy and Ebi Ere all returning from overseas – and poster boy Josh Childress going around again – the set-up is there for a great season.

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A season that will play out with every game live.