OPINION: Lack of NBA television announcement is turn-off for UK fans

David Oliver is hoping for a resolution to the NBA TV situation after BT Sport pulled out.
David Oliver is hoping for a resolution to the NBA TV situation after BT Sport pulled out.

Big news in the Scottish football media market as beIN Sports have been secured to broadcast the national game in New Zealand, Australia, Iraq, Iran, Sudan and Syria, amongst others.

Big news in the Scottish football media market as beIN Sports have been secured to broadcast the national game in New Zealand, Australia, Iraq, Iran, Sudan and Syria, amongst others.

Picture Michael Gillen

Picture Michael Gillen

It seems a slightly obscure move to show Motherwell v St Johnstone to downtown Beirut but the more eyes on the game, the better from a marketing point of view.

I don’t expect some of the countries, or cities, now being treated to the latest action at Fir Park or the Tony Macaroni Arena will be on destination lists to have the new stars of their screens appear locally – which is why the current silence between the NBA and its British fans is as bizarre as it is frustrating.

The stars of the New York Knicks and Washington Wizards ARE coming to these shores, and it might be the only game the wider British public get to see this season.

BT Sport decided to pull the plug on showing American top-level basketball on these shores earlier this summer. As yet no-one has picked up the rights to the basketball, and fans on this side of the Atlantic are becoming edgy with the season just a matter of days away now. Just ask Twitter and various NBA personalities and journalists being asked the same question, ‘Will we, and when will we, be able to watch the game this season?’

A weeks from the regular season’s big tip-off, still... no answer. The NBA’s own TV app is available, at a price, but it’s a niche market – definitely not as good a marketing tool as the frequent live games and re-runs being shown on of the premier sports providers here in the UK. Not much use for picking up passive fans or viewers.

Without the game being screened here and in the direct public sight will the tickets for the forthcoming NBA game in London – which go on sale next week – go just as well as they did last time? Probably, but it’s still not great marketing at the moment. Of course a big, and very welcome, TV announcement could do the opposite and be a bump for sales next week too.

Scottish football is often criticised for treatment of fans but they’re ahead of the curve compared to the NBA whose current impasse isn’t doing the sport, and one of the biggest (and best) sporting organisations in the world, any favour in the UK fan market right now.

Anyway, Go Knicks.