The prospect of the Sal’s NBL season being watched by millions of people around the world has just become a firm reality with a ground-breaking deal that will see New Zealand’s National Basketball League broadcast live in the United States by ESPN television.
Using this year’s reformatted competition, the signed agreement will see ESPN3 show all 56 games across the US. It will be the first time in the League’s 39-year history that US audience can watch NZNBL games live.
Sal’s NBL General Manager, Justin Nelson, says this agreement is a triumph for Kiwi players that New Zealand basketball has never seen before.
“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,” says Nelson.
The NBL says further interest is growing in other regions including the Philippines, Australia, South-East Asia and parts of Europe. Nelson is quick to acknowledge the support of the League’s partners in helping create such deals.
“We are very fortunate to have brilliant broadcast support from Spalk.TV, a New York-based Kiwi start-up that helped us open some doors. Then the League’s pay-per-view partners Trained By Miyagi supported the US move and backed us to get the deal done. And of course, the support shown by Sky Sport continues to reap rewards as well. They are so supportive of Kiwi sport to a level we should be damn proud of.
“They are incredible allies alongside our other partners SkyCity, Stuff, ATEED, AND1, TAB, R-Line, D3 Tape, Rehab Physio Group, newzest, Tribe, Molten, Monstavision, the Trusts Arena, Mesh Printing and Sal’s Pizza of course,” says Nelson.
The interest from ESPN followed last week’s successful player draft, which included an exciting month-long build-up. Nelson says opportunities around the world started to open up.
“People abroad started to notice the NBL, they heard about the new format, especially with the draft. 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. 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.”
Viewers outside of the United States and New Zealand can still watch all games on the pay per view platform www.NZNBLpass.com
The six-week Sal’s NBL Showdown starts tonight at Trusts Arena in West Auckland with seven teams and 84 players delivering two games a night, five nights per week.
Tickets are now on sale at www.ticketfairy.com