NBL season to broadcast on ESPN for the first time

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 23 Jun 2020, 9:16PM
Photo media session for the launch of the 2020 Sal's NBL basketball season. Photo / Photosport
Photo media session for the launch of the 2020 Sal's NBL basketball season. Photo / Photosport

NBL season to broadcast on ESPN for the first time

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 23 Jun 2020, 9:16PM

The New Zealand National Basketball League has struck a ground-breaking deal with television giant ESPN to broadcast every game of its new season in the United States.

The deal will see ESPN3 broadcast all 56 games of the NBL across the US for the first time in the league's 39-year history.

NBL general manager Justin Nelson said the agreement is great news for NZ basketball.

"This is massive. All 56 games and many hours of New Zealand broadcast sport will be live to the vast sport-hungry audience throughout the US. The chance for New Zealand basketball to be shown on ESPN is incredible for our players, the seven competing teams and all of our sponsors.

"This news should reinforce to everyone that basketball is a global sport and we have the ability to take our game and our commercial partners right around the world. New Zealand basketball is absolutely worth investing in, it is a booming sport across more than two hundred countries.

"This is also an opportunity for us to showcase Auckland and New Zealand globally. Alongside our partners at ATEED, we can't wait to show everyone this beautiful part of the world."

Nelson said interest had been building around the world, including in South-East Asia, Europe and Australia.

The interest from America followed the long build up of the league's revamped season and last week's NBL player draft, which made news overseas.

"People abroad started to notice the NBL, they heard about the new format, especially with the draft," Nelson said. "News of the concept made some headlines overseas and then the phone started to ring.

"The biggest winners from the ESPN agreement are those who absolutely deserve every bit of the attention coming their way – the players. They are the stars of the show. The sacrifice they have made to play cannot be understated."

Nelson said the deal, which has the potential to reach a huge TV audience especially with basketball-starved fans looking for live sport, could be crucial to the survival of the league.

"We don't have the same dollars as others, we don't have the same funding as others, but we're digging deep, we're in it together and we're fighting for the survival of our national league. It's a team effort and the NBL team are extremely proud of every one of them and the seven teams that have backed it."

The six-week NBL season starts tonight with seven teams and 84 players delivering two games a night, five nights per week.