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NBL returning to free-to-air TV in landmark deal
The increasing momentum of the National Basketball League (NBL) received another boost, as news broke that Australia's premier basketball competition will once again grace free-to-air (FTA) television.
Channel Nine are set to broadcast two games per week, one on Saturday and one on Sunday, in what is a three-year broadcasting rights agreement according to NBL.com. It's the latest coup for the blossoming league, coming on the back of Australian basketball great, Andrew Bogut signing with the Sydney Kings, and a record slate of preseason games scheduled against NBA opposition starting next month.
In a media release, NBL owner and executive director Larry Kestelman confirmed the magnitude of the deal for the sport in Australia.
“This is a very exciting announcement for the NBL and Australian basketball. To have a major free to air commercial partner in Nine will help take the NBL to a new level and confirm our status as the best league in the world outside of the NBA.“
The 2018/19 NBL season officially begins on Thursday, October 11th. As per the agreement, games are set to be broadcast on Nine's secondary channels in 9GO! and 9Now.
Channel Nine's director of sport, Tom Malone, echoed Kestelman's excitement in the announcement.
“We are thrilled to have Basketball back on Nine and part of the Wide World of Sports family. Larry and the team at NBL have done a terrific job re-building basketball in Australia, and securing some big names for the coming season – it will be great to see Andrew Bogut make his debut for the Sydney Kings.
“We have also structured a commercial partnership beyond the broadcast, to build a business relationship between the NBL and Nine to achieve maximum return for both sporting body and broadcaster in the years ahead.”
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Nine will obtain digital rights to simulcast games on their app, even if games are potentially broadcasted on Fox Sports.
The deal is structured as a revenue-sharing agreement, with incentives built into growing streams such as team merchandise and memberships.
Part of that future plan was potentially revealed in Kestelman's interview on SEN mornings with Garry Lyon and Tim Watson.
Kestelman announced both weekend games are slated to fall between 3-5pm, with future plans including moving to Nine's main station, and also possibly adding a dedicated basketball show to their programming schedule. Despite the opening time slot falling in the afternoon period, Kestelman admitted they will be open to tinkering with that format as they work through what will provide optimum exposure to the national audience.
With sell out crowds and talent on a level that tops anything we've seen before, watching NBL on channel Nine is set to spark memories of the leagues previous heyday in the 90's, when raucous crowds were broadcast live on Channel Ten.
Kestelman described the deal as the "final piece of the puzzle", but rest assured he will have more moves up his sleeve as the NBL continues to go from strength to strength.