The NBL has entered into a two-year agreement with Twitch to stream games live, globally.
All NBL games will be streamed on the NBL Twitch channel, with an option to be co-streamed, allowing users to provide their own commentary on their own Twitch channels. Other features including stats and polling will be rolled out as well.
According to the NBL's release, the recent Twitch stream featuring Next Star LaMelo Ball's Illawarra Hawks against the Perth Wildcats game at the preseason NBL Blitz in Tasmania had 184,000 unique viewers. This new partnership opens access up for overseas NBL fans to watch games, especially those keeping an eye out for Next Stars like Ball, RJ Hampton, Terry Armstrong and Didi Louzada.
We had earlier reported that NBL games would be available via FloHoops for US and Canada fans, and the league subsequently entered into a partnership with Facebook that allowed for streaming of selected games.
Domestically, the NBL had begun promotion of its NBL TV product with a free month trial ($5 per month after), alongside SBS on Demand's free streams. It's unclear whether there's any geographical restrictions on NBL's Twitch streaming --there could be changes from Twitch on its policy when Article 17's Copyright Directive in the EU goes live-- but it does hint at a potential shift away from NBL TV.
“Our partnership with Twitch is truly revolutionary for Australian sport and reinforces the NBL’s status as a global entertainment product," NBL commissioner, Jeremy Loeliger said. “Not only does it take our product to an entirely new audience all around the world, but by allowing our games to be co-streamed by members of the Twitch community, it also delivers those games in a new way that is more engaging for that audience. People who have never heard of the NBL before will be logging in to see their favourite streamers presenting our content. It's a very exciting development."
Loeliger also touched on the live engagement aspect of Twitch. Outside of live stats and chat, competitions and merchandise purchases can all be done without leaving the game - this is something that could be used to drive sales for NBL merchandise further.
“There is huge global interest in the NBL. We are already broadcasting games around the world into the USA, Europe and Asia with a potential reach of 130 million people. Twitch will further extend that reach during what is the most exciting period ever for Australian basketball with the NBL now considered the second best basketball entertainment product in the world.”
“Extending our basketball content to include the next full season of one of the top professional leagues in the world is an obviously exciting way to further engage with what is proving to be a very strong and growing fandom on our service," Head of Sports Verticals at Twitch, Eric Brunner said. “It’s awesome to work with the NBL as the first sports body in Australia to truly understand the power of building a global community on Twitch.”