NEW DEAL | SBS becomes home of Australian Basketball with dramatic increase in Free-To-AIr Broadcasts

SBS and ESPN will become the new home of NBL in Australia
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SBS and ESPN have surprised the market with a new broadcast deal for the NBL and upcoming International Basketball Series. Delivering a dramatic increase in the quantity of Australian Basketball broadcast on Free-To-Air Television.

The new two-year deal will see 67 games broadcast LIVE on SBS VICELAND, – an 86% increase in free-to-air coverage compared with the previous 2018-19 season on NINE multichannel 9GO.

Improved timeslots and HD broadcasts will provide an additional win for Free-To-Air sports fans. Under the new deal, SBS VICELAND will be broadcasting up to four matches per round, airing predominantly at 5.30pm on Saturday and at 3pm and 5pm on Sunday.

The remaining 59 games will be broadcast LIVE on ESPN. The pay-tv channel will hold exclusive broadcast rights to all games (excluding finals) occurring after 7.30pm.

All finals will be simulcast LIVE on SBS VICELAND and ESPN. The full broadcast schedule for the 2019-2020 NBL Season can be viewed here.

The new arrangement will also provide fans access to the entire 126 game 2019-2020 NBL season, starting on October 3 via streaming platform SBS On-Demand.

The new deal will see the NBL absorb production costs and no longer receive a rights fee for its content. Instead the NBL will receive a share of advertising from SBS and ESPN. A similar model has worked well for Netball Australia.

The move comes after previous rights holder Foxtel made the decision not to continue with the sport, the pay-tv giant is under pressure to reduce "non-marquee sporting content" after the business posted a $417 million loss last year. Fox Sports had broadcast the NBL competition for the last four seasons.

Speaking with TV Blackbox this week, CEO of Foxtel, Patrick Delany stated:

“We had a red hot go on that, and we found, while Larry Kestelman is doing a fantastic job, - they're getting full stadiums, it's going to take a while for viewership to build. So that's something that we couldn't continue with, but I'm glad it's still on the (Foxtel) platform.”

ESPN is available in Australia via Foxtel, Kayo and FetchTV.

NBL Owner and Executive Chairman Larry Kestelman confirmed the move to SBS and ESPN stating:

"This broadcast agreement is a huge leap forward in the coverage of the NBL and basketball across Australia.

"It maintains our commitment to make the game available to more people to watch when and how they choose across different platforms and will continue to grow our audience across Australia.”

In addition to the new NBL deal, SBS has also secured broadcast rights for the International Basketball Series. The tournament will feature two games between the Australian Boomers and the USA at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne in front of 100,000 fans.

Commencing from the 16 of August, the seven-match series will be broadcast on SBS VICELAND and streamed live and free via SBS On Demand. In addition to Australia and USA, the series will also feature New Zealand and Canada and will be an important lead-up tournament to September's World Cup.

SBS Managing Director, James Taylor, said:

"SBS has a strong heritage of championing sports Australia's diverse communities are passionate about, and we are thrilled to be partnering with the NBL to become the exclusive free-to-air home of Australian basketball, offering more free coverage than ever before, and in HD.

"With around one million Australians playing basketball, it's one of the nation's leading team sports for participation and we look forward to bringing fans every memorable minute of one of the country's fastest-growing leagues."

ESPN ANZ General Manager, Haydn Arndt added:

"ESPN is the indisputable home for basketball fans in Australia so it makes perfect sense to add the NBL alongside our exclusive television coverage of the NBA, WNBA and NCAA Basketball.

"We love what the NBL are doing to grow the league and attract high profile talent to our home courts – we saw it last year with Andrew Bogut's return, and earlier this year with the signings of both LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton. Basketball is booming in Australia and the NBL is primed for growth. We're very happy to be in business with them."

Larry Kestelman added:

“We are delighted to partner with ESPN, the home of the NBA in Australia, bringing more global credibility to the NBL as we attract bigger stars to what is now considered one of the best leagues in the world outside of the NBA.

“We thank Fox Sports for their partnership over the past four seasons and are pleased we will remain on the Foxtel platform on ESPN. We also thank Nine for the role they played in broadcasting games on free to air last season.

“ESPN and SBS will now become the destination of basketball in Australia as basketball continues to surge in popularity.

“Next month’s International series will give the NBL a huge springboard into what promises the biggest season ever as Melbourne United and our newest team South East Melbourne Phoenix face off in the first ever Throwdown at Melbourne Arena on October 3.”