NBL to broadcast every game live in China

The relationship between the NBL and China continues to grow, with every game to be broadcasted live to over a million Chinese fans, the league announced today.

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Fans in China will be able to watch the NBL via Ali Sports and Sina Sports, on their respective platforms, with Mandarin Chinese commentary and a Chinese graphics package.

NBL General Manager Jeremy Loeliger believes the announcement is an “enormous boost” for the NBL and its domestic and international partners.

“We’ve made no secret that our number one objective this year is exposure,” Loeliger said.

“Each of our Chinese media partners individually has a subscriber base that is greater than anything ever experienced by an Australian sport on a regular basis.

“Collectively, their reach is almost inconceivable and for our league to be potentially viewed by millions of fans each week across their digital platforms with local commentary and subtitles is nothing short of a new frontier for Australian sport.”

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NBL Executive Director Larry Kestelman is confident the large Chinese audience will help the NBL’s global growth and development, making the league a household name in the country.

“Basketball is one of the most popular sports in China, a country with a population of more than 1.3 billion people, so the reach and expansion potential for the NBL is immense,” Kestelman said.

“We have made no secret of our desire to see the league expand and strengthen further. In the long term we see Asia having a greater involvement across our Australian NBL season.”

Loeliger believes this new deal won’t be challenging the highly popular Chinese Basketball Association; instead, it’ll be a complementary product to help build the bond between the two leagues.

“I certainty don’t think it’s competition to the CBA,” Loeliger said.

Loeliger said the deal wasn’t made in conjunction with the CBA but he is off to China this weekend to help seek further ways the two leagues can cross-promote each other’s content and build a stronger partnership.

While Loeliger did say this deal is separate to the conversation of bringing a Chinese team into the NBL, he admitted this deal helps the possibility of it occurring.

“The two are separate, but related,” Loeliger said of the broadcast deal and a Chinese team.

The NBL has yet to receive Chinese viewing numbers from the Australian Basketball Challenge but the league explained streaming the ABC into China was fundamental to this deal. Additionally, the feedback the NBL has received from Sina Sports was very positive relative to the quality of the stream and amount of people who watched it.

The Chinese broadcasters will be in contact with the NBL and the Sydney Kings to see what they can do to promote Bo Liu, the first ever Chinese-born NBL player.

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Kestelman believes this deal is a “game changer,” but won’t lock in anymore long-term commercial partners until the league receives the numbers from overseas.

Ali Sports will broadcast games via their streaming platform, Youku, which is often referred to as the ‘YouTube of China.’ Sina Sports, China’s largest and longest-running digital sports media platform, will broadcast the NBL on their website, mobile site and Sina Sports AAP. NBL games and content will also be advertised on Sina Weibo, which is known as ‘China’s Twitter.’

The NBL season begins tomorrow night, with the Brisbane Bullets hosting the Perth Wildcats.