A spokesperson from Channel Ten has informed COURTSIDE (via Twitter)
that the network will not be renewing their NBA Broadcast rights,
regardless if the 2011-12 NBA season goes ahead or not.
After delivering two live NBA games per week throughout the 2010-11
season, and priceless hours worth of Playoff coverage, the Network who
now operates three free-to-air channels: Ten, ONE HD and Eleven, will
not be providing NBA coverage into homes across the nation. At least
not anytime soon.
With a trio channels to fill airtime on, this (not so surprising) move
by Network Ten appears to be a matter which is motivated largely by
money (what isn’t in the corporate world?), coupled with the their
desire to rebrand and move in a fresh direction. As we know, Network
Ten announced back in April, 2011, that ONE HD would move away from
being Australia’s sports destination and would instead gear itself
towards “general entertainment” to compete with rival expansion
After relegating our own National Basketball League to a red-eye time
slot, (thanks again for that Channel Ten — while we do understand
why, we’re still very, very mad), NBA fans will now be forced to look
elsewhere for their weekly US sporting fix. Thank God for the
It appears as though the network, and their respective programing /
decision makers, are completely detaching themselves from basketball,
which should upset to all sporting fans, not just those of us who hear
Spaldings bounce while we sleep.
It’s a real shame that the NBL relies so heavily on ONE HD to help
their brand out (on multiple levels) but that doesn’t mean ONE HD
should in turn start to treat the NBL like it’s an ex-girlfriend…
more so, the decision to move away from any coverage of the NBA
altogether has us feeling more than a little gutted.
While we don’t know the exact ONE HD TV ratings (from the previous NBA
season), we do know that every time we spoke to anybody, they always
cited a ONE HD game or highlight. It always appeared, to us at least,
as though people were tuning in but again, we don’t know the exact
With ONE HD’s market share being as small as it is, you’d think they’d
be keen to retain the few loyal viewers they have… but no. Not that
appears to matters now, especially given ONE HD’s directional change.
The NBA never needs an invitation to boast about their own supporter
base but with this decision by Channel Ten, we can’t help but wonder
what it’ll mean for the NBA’s plans to focus more international
attention on Australia. What worries us is the fallout from this
Channel Ten announcement, one that may in fact be two-fold… Firstly,
to over-simplify, the NBA may see the removal of our national NBA
coverage and take it as a sign that we as
Australian’s don’t care about their game. So to the million or so NBA
fans out there, we need to let our collective voice be heard…
Secondly, casual fans who only tuned in to watch LeBron James and co.
might be quickly lost to alternative sports or other forms of
pop-culture entertainment if basketball isn’t a constant. In this
digital age, fandom is fickle, and we all know basketball in Australia
lacks real unity but until now, ONE HD could almost always be relied
upon to bring many of us together, if only for a few hours (twice a
week)… and finally, the real killer: the NBL can kiss any broadcast
With renewed interest in the game, thanks-in-large to LeBron’s own
decision (to take his talents elsewhere), any carry-over momentum from
last campaign obviously means nothing to the people at Channel Ten.
Guess they’re not NBA fans. After allowing all Australian’s to closely
follow the Miami Heat’s three-headed monster; and after helping grow
the Andrew Bogut brand by continually (and often forcefully) putting
the (un-TV friendly) Milwaukee Bucks games in primetime, the small
steps which basketball took to regain its local commercial dominance
in 2010-11 has once again been derailed.
Now it appears as though the primary options left for hoop-heads,
should the 30 franchise owners and the NBPA come to an agreement and
resolve the lockout, are:
A. (Over)pay for ESPN’s limited NBA coverage on Foxtel.
B. Purchase NBA League Pass and by-pass the local broadcasters
altogether. Hurry up, National Broadband Network.
C. Move to the USA.
We vote ‘B’… it’s the cheapest and friendliest option.
This could also serve as an opportunity for any one of Ten’s major
rivals, like Channel 7 or Nine, or heck, even SBS, to grab the rights
and be the local home of the NBA. If that happens, we vote SBS — they
already cover the ‘Global Game’ why not the other one? Any network
which airs the NBA will be sure to at least find itself with tens of
thousands of additional viewers. And that can’t be bad news bears for
If you’d like to see the NBA broadcast locally this season, whenever
that may be, feel free to bomb the Twitter feeds and FaceBook pages of
all the major networks… because if 500,000 (or more) of us disrupt
the broadcaster’s own messages, they’ll be forced to listen to the
people and bring basketball back into our homes, free-of-charge.