“What!? Are you serious?”
That was my reaction last Thursday after seeing a tweet from the National Basketball League regarding the Grand Final. It was that night. The battle between the two best teams in the competition, Perth and the New Zealand Breakers, had been largely unnoticed, particularly in the Eastern states of Australia and one thing is to blame.
When the season started back in October, things were looking up. The league was coming off it’s most successful season in a long time. Crowds were up, ratings were up since the move back to Free TV, Patty Mills was back in town and for a while it looked like Andrew Bogut would come back too and it looked like Basketball was making a resurgence.
Then, One HD announced that instead of showing live coverage of the Southern Hemisphere’s premiere basketball league, it would show re-runs of M.A.S.H. and other shows that can be seen on 7mate. They would offer two options to the league:
1. To show three heavily delayed matches a round (sometimes as late as 1am AEST the next morning ) or
2. To show one live match a round on ONE HD.
Both were unattractive offers, but ultimately the league would have to choose what they thought was best for the sponsors. Option one would have to be chosen.
Since taking over channel 10 in February last year, James Packer and Lachlan Murdoch have turned the network upside down. Funding was cut and too be honest, it really doesn’t look like they’re in it for anything. They changed ONE into a ‘blokes’ network. They also lost the rights to broadcast AFL and have decided not to telecast the Indian Premier League and the NBA.
To make it even worse, you could guarantee that whenever there was an NBL game in New Zealand, ONE would simulcast that match from the host broadcaster across the ditch, so that they wouldn’t have to send a crew and to cut costs.
This season, the NBL has gone down the community route rather than the corporate path and it is working. Crowds once again are on the up. But the key component is Media coverage. The major newspapers would be lucky to have a column a week on the NBL while with the emergence of Digital Radio you would think that games might be able to be covered on there. There is also next to no coverage in news bulletins.
Andrew Bogut has tweeted fans regularly asking for online streams of NBL matches. Channel 10 show the Formula 1 live online, why couldn’t they do it for the NBL?
The NBL obviously can’t back out on its contract with Network 10, but surely they can sit down and work out a better deal for next season. The fans of Australian basketball deserve much better.