NBL to be shown LIVE in 2012/13

The National Basketball League has re-negotiated its television contract with Channel Ten / ONE HD. The new deal will see one live game per week shown on Sunday afternoons and a replay match televised at the fairly palatable 9:30pm on Friday nights.

Channel 10, through it’s HD station ONE HD, formed a television rights agreement with the NBL at the start of the 2010/11 iiNet Championship season. That contract called for varying levels of coverage over the course of a five year span. 

2011/12 saw calls from many fans for increased live coverage, as ONE invoked a “near-live” clause in the contract to show three games a week around the 10:30pm timeslot. The two parties went back to the table to re-negotiate the terms of the deal going forward and have come together on a schedule that should satisfy a lot more people.

Fans will see live games on Sunday afternoons at 2pm (October to February) and 1pm (March and April). This represents a good opportunity for younger age groups to sit down and watch the game. These games will be shown on TEN, as opposed to ONE — potentially this will lead to a greater mainstream audience.

The 9:30pm slot on a Friday night (ONE) ensures that those that are late getting home can watch the game, but not so late that it is unwatchable for most audiences. This is a clear improvement on the timeslots of 2011/12. 

All NBL Finals games will also be broadcast on both TEN and ONE under the new deal, with TEN maintaining access to rebroadcast coverage of New Zealand Breakers 14 home games into Australia.

Very interestingly and importantly, the league has resecured digital rights to show games through other means (ie online). 

From the NBL press release:

Justin Milne said that a key component of the new agreement, which will still run the remainder of the original five-year term through until the end of the 2014/15 iiNet NBL Championship season, is the NBL reclaiming the rights to non-TEN produced games for subscription television, IPTV,  on-line and mobile.

“This revised TEN broadcast platform for the next three seasons will see the league’s audience increase substantially and increase fan accessibility to our games,” said Mr. Milne.

“It will have a very positive influence on our brand and further assist our efforts to introduce new fans to the league.  TEN’s audience share is significant and we now have the opportunity to capitalise on that and demonstrate to Australians why we believe that we have the best sports entertainment product in this country.

“Just as importantly, we now have this terrific opportunity to talk to a range of potential suitors with an interest in broadcasting all remaining NBL games across multiple platforms.   So much is changing in this space and this presents us with a very real opportunity to secure new partnerships that will see all NBL games broadcast on some form of platform, whether it be on TEN, pay television, IPTV, online or mobile.

“Not only will this increase coverage and our ability to introduce new fans, but just as importantly, it will provide increased value for league and club sponsors and should raise the interest of potential new sponsors to the league,” Mr. Milne added.

This is bigger than a footnote to the news above regarding live coverage. In this age, with the technologies available for online and mobile broadcasting, re-gaining the rights to rebroadcast footage produced by teams is huge. 

NBL major sponsor, iiNet theoretically has the capabilities to show games online through its Fetch TV service. Exploring possibilities like this will be very exciting for the NBL and its fans.

Overall, this news is a positive step for the league.