About half an hour before I started writing this, the NBL.TV Facebook page linked to an article on basketball blog Hoop Diary. This article talks about the problems NBL.TV is having, and some of the immediate fixes that can be made.
The only issue with this is, if we look at the wider NBL television issues, including Network Ten and ONE in Australia, NBL.TV everywhere (except New Zealand) and Sky Sport in New Zealand, we see so much more that the NBL has refused to even acknowledge. Obviously, I can only really focus on the New Zealand side of things. But that’s okay – there’s more than enough to look at in the New Zealand market alone.
Let’s go back to when the NBL released NBL.TV. At that point, the NBL had a renegotiated deal with Network Ten, after their absolutely terrible coverage in 2010/11. There was little the NBL could do about it during the season, because there was an exclusivity clause in the contract. It was either start doing a deal with someone else and lose all coverage while that deal’s being done, or ride it out to the end of the season. They went with the lesser of two evils. The contract was renegotiated to include that the NBL had the right to broadcast any games on an online/mobile format of their choosing, and any games that Network Ten doesn’t cover can be covered by another organisation of the NBL’s choosing.
A few months later, NBL.TV is announced. However, there’s a curious disclaimer down the bottom – NBL.TV is not available in New Zealand. This was confusing, because it was known that the NBL did not have any contracts in New Zealand. They decided to go with single season contracts in New Zealand, and no contract between the NBL and a broadcaster in New Zealand had been announced. It wasn’t until about a month later that the NBL announced the television schedule for New Zealand, which said SKY Sport would show all of the New Zealand Breakers games, both home and away. It also allowed for other games to be shown, and allowed the continued use of iSKY to show games. We were told that this would “give New Zealand fans greater access to the NBL than ever before”. In fact, CEO of Basketball Australia, Kristina Keneally, said, “This is the first time New Zealand fans will have access to multiple NBL games through subscription television, mobiles, and the internet“.
That’s what we were told. Now, what really happened?
SKY is showing every New Zealand Breakers game. They also usually show one or two other games per round. iSKY shows a simulcast of the SKY Sports channels, so those same games are also available via iSKY. There is no mobile content available at all. While we were told this would give New Zealand fans “increased digital access to the NBL”, that’s not what has happened. At best, there’s been no change. At worst, there’s been a decline in what New Zealand fans can view. I say that because last season, SKY showed every game New Zealand Breakers home game, and also showed every game that Network Ten broadcast. This meant that they were showing every game that there was coverage of. With NBL.TV, it is possible for SKY to show every NBL game. Sure, they might not be able to show it on SKY Sports due to clashes with other programming, but they could have online only content.
Stuff.co.nz’s Nicola Abercrombie (and yes, that is Tom Abercrombie’s sister) started the process of asking what’s really happening with NBL coverage, but it was half done. Leaving it at “an [NBL] spokesperson said because Sky were the broadcast rights holders in New Zealand, the league “contractually cannot make NBL.tv available in New Zealand”.” And yes – I did need to change it from ANBL. It’s not the ANBL. There is no A. Anyway, that’s not good enough, because the NBL must have decided on NBL.TV well before they started negotiations with SKY for the three-year deal they did.
This is an opinion piece, not journalism. However, I will send this through to the NBL and SKY TV and see if we can get a response. If I get something, I’ll throw in an edit.
Oh, and I still stand by the fact that NBL.TV was my idea, and I can’t even use it.