With the recent huge news for basketball fans in Australia that all Boomers and Opals games at the upcoming 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup for Men and the 2014 Women’s World Championships will be broadcast on ABC2, those supporting the green and gold can rejoice.
Not since the 1994 World Championships when SBS broadcast the men’s tournament held in Canada has the event been on free to air television, with some editions since not broadcast in Australia at all. With the Australian games in addition to Team USA and all finals matches being broadcast by ABC2, the greedy question now is – what if you want to watch say Spain and France or Argentina and Croatia battle it out in the group stages?
With increased exposure in Australia to international players through the Euroleague and Eurocup, the largest number of international players running the hardwood floor in the NBA and large expat hoop-fan populations residing in Australia from basketball hot bed countries such as Greece and Serbia, the appetite to see players in national colours other than in just the latest incarnation of a USA “Dream Team” has never been stronger.
For those in the above categories and beyond, have no fear because the platform of livebasketball.tv will play a pivotal role in satisfying every hard-to-please hoops fan’s desires over the coming months. Emerging out of FIBA’s desire to digitise its vast archive of footage, the opportunity was there to simultaneously begin the steps towards a platform that after a few different early incarnations, would relatively recently take the form of what FIBA’s Director of TV & New Media Rights, Paul Stimpson describes as an aggregator of live basketball.
“The aim [is] to become the destination site to come to view live basketball from around the world. The platform technically has improved greatly since it was first launched as FIBATV and it means that anyone around the world can access basketball,” he said.
FIBA’s digital rights partner The Perform Group, who are based out of the U.K., may be familiar to NBL fans as it is Perform who have provided NBL.tv to Australian fans, with NBL games being carried to the rest of the world by the livebasketball.tv platform.
With the site having undergone a vast array of improvements over the last couple of years, Mr. Stimpson says the focus for the moment is simply making people aware of livebasketball.tv.
“The big challenge that we now have is to make sure every basketball fan, wherever they may be, knows about LBTV and tries it out,” he said.
Most recently with the Euroleague Final Four in Milan did the platform touch on an improvement that many have felt has limited its potential to this point – delivering content in high definition.
While the aim is to now deliver more and more content in HD when its available, Mr. Stimpson said it is the delivery of live action that has people signing up.
“The real feature of the platform is live basketball as this is what the various research has said is the real driver for subscription sites,” he said.
Australian subscribers currently account for 2% of the whole subscriber base, with the Euroleague being the main attraction. Something that has negatively impacted this overall number is NBL games being geo-blocked on the main platform of livebasketball.tv for those in Australia, something that at this stage will continue for the near future.
With a push in recent times to clean up existing TV rights agreements to ensure less content be geo-blocked, there is now a push to increase the number of leagues being provided but this comes with its challenges.
“We are looking at having additional leagues from around the world but the challenge is ensuring the quality of delivery,” he said.
“A lot of games are not necessarily available to downlink from a satellite and some do not have any commentary so we are always balancing the logistical aspects of accessing the games with the quality of the viewing experience as well as marketing and promoting the content to the basketball fans.”
As part of livebasketball.tv’s push, they are currently offering a summer pass subscription for $1 that gets you access to every game at both the men’s and women’s world tournaments in Spain and Turkey later this year.
If they weren’t already, this should see Dragic, Gasol, Teodosic and company become even more known to perhaps even the most casual hoops fan. Seeing them play with the pride of their nation should enable livebasketball.tv to continue to forge ahead and be able to play a key role in making basketball reach even the most remote fan in the remotest corners of the globe.