I have never followed basketball, not the National Basketball Association (NBA) in America, nor the British Basketball League (BBL) in the UK or any of the international events. It is not that I do not like basketball or that I have any sort of prejudice against the sport. I just haven’t watched it, I am unqualified to say if I would like it or not.
I know the aim of the game, that there are five players on each team, that you have to bounce the ball when travelling and shoot it into the oppositions hoop to score. Apart from that, I have no clue how the game is played, I don’t know anything about tactics, plays, what constitutes a penalty, nothing. I am a newbie.
I live in the UK, basketball is considered an American sport, and though I watch other American sports, mainly ice hockey and the occasional American football game, I have never been exposed to either basketball or baseball.
I knew, due to my affinity with the Manchester Storm ice hockey team who shared an arena with the cities basketball team in the ’90s, that there was a league in the UK, but I never attended a game. With so many sports that dominate the airwaves in the UK, with association football being the main one, it is no surprise that I am so unaware of the game in this country.
UK Ice hockey has the same problem as basketball. As a marginal sport in the UK, that is often overlooked by the British press, both of the games find it challenging to attract new supporters to their respective arenas.
The British Basketball League, in an aim to attract a new audience, aims to show all of their games on YouTube for free.
Yeah, let that sink in.
The British Basketball League, rather than look for a TV deal with a network, or like the UK premier ice hockey league, the EIHL, who sell webcasts for each of their games, is instead going to give their product away for free.
Will this attract a new audience to the sport? I would have to agree and say that it would. I think that a new and younger audience may tune in for free. However, I remain unconvinced that this would lead to these casual online viewers becoming paid supporters of the league. Of course, I have no evidence for my hypothesis. I am only speaking as somebody who is a fan of other sports. I already give my money to other teams in other leagues, of course, if I see a sport that is available for me to watch for free, I will watch. But this will not translate into a sale from my point of view I am afraid.
However, maybe the league is casually looking to advertise the league to other networks, to show networks that there is an audience for spectators to watch online, therefore an audience will watch on television. With more eyes on the sport, there could potentially be more sponsorship opportunities for the league to sell space on their free to view streams.
I find this rather interesting. It all depends on the leagues’ motives. I do not feel like attendances at the arenas will grow, though I could be wrong. However, an advert for the game could be what is needed to raise awareness for potential new fans of the sport.
I suppose the execution of the streams is o high importance. If they are professional and if they marketed in the right way it will raise awareness. However, if the league is doing this as an afterthought, people will see through it and what to turn off. It is a strange balance, a huge gamble.
For someone who has never seen a basketball game, I can guarantee they will have at least one viewer, as my intrigue in the whole British Basketball League has me hooked for at least one game. However, it is up to the professionalism of the content to hook me for further matches, you only get once chance to make a first impression.
Till the next reboot…