Today Basketball New Zealand, the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZ NBL), and NZME announced that two weekly NZ NBL games will be livestreamed free of charge on NZHerald.co.nz throughout the season.
Chief Executive of Basketball New Zealand, Iain Potter, says this is fantastic for basketball when sports have been increasingly struggling to get their games shown live by traditional broadcasters.
"NZME has been great to deal with. They've helped to make this live sport opportunity possible by providing their basketball page within the Herald website as a platform to broadcast the games. It means the New Zealand public will be able to watch more than 27 games over the 2016 NZ NBL season, and it also helps meet an increasing demand for basketball," says Potter.
NZME's Head of Sport Trevor McKewen says live events are no longer consumed purely by traditional means and watching streamed events has become commonplace in New Zealand.
"NZME is delighted to bring this viewing opportunity to basketball fans in New Zealand. The fast-moving nature of basketball as a sport and the tremendous athleticism makes it a very attractive live streaming option. In addition, our comprehensive news coverage of basketball at all levels whether it's NBA, Tall Blacks, Breakers or the New Zealand NBL competition means we are rapidly becoming a one-stop content shop for fans of the game," says McKewen.
Potter says this is a big step forward for the NBL, which has a very loyal fan base. He believes the live coverage will help foster an increased following.
"The last time the NZ NBL was broadcast weekly was in the early 90s. Yet basketball's fan base is growing steadily in New Zealand and it's increasingly becoming the sport of choice for many Kiwis. They're tapping into those iconic provincial teams such as the Wellington Saints and Nelson Giants, which have been around in New Zealand for over 30 years. It's also attractive because it's full of Tall Blacks, Breakers, American imports, and the next breed of outstanding Kiwi basketball talent," says Potter.
Basketball New Zealand has invested in the project by contracting official streaming provider i-Film. Chris Penman, i-Film's National Service Delivery Manager, says the games will be produced to a high standard of broadcasting to ensure the fans are getting the style of sports broadcast that they love and expect.
"Our background is in broadcasting, telecommunications and IT, which are the three main ingredients for professional livestreaming, so this is what we do and we're really excited to be involved in the growth of basketball. We are thrilled to be Basketball New Zealand's preferred livestreaming provider. I think the fans and general sporting public will love the coverage of the NZ NBL, which can be watched anywhere in the world and on many phones, tablets and TVs."
Fans will also be able to wager on the games through TAB live betting. New Zealand Racing Board's Carl Jackson says basketball is the TAB's most popular sport for live betting and this is another great offering for punters.
"We are excited at the prospect of being able to offer more live betting on New Zealand domestic basketball. Basketball is our most popular live betting sport and although we have offered odds on the NBL for many years now, the opportunities for us to offer live betting have been limited. Games played in the early evening in New Zealand will complement our coverage of the NBA perfectly and we expect live NBL to be a great success," says Jackson.
Andrew Harrison, Director of the Canterbury Rams and part of the NBL and Basketball New Zealand team that worked on the streaming deal, says it is a fantastic opportunity for the teams and the sport.
"The final streaming schedule prioritises a set time of 7pm on a Thursday or 7pm on a Saturday, to ensure there is consistency for audiences. Consideration was also given to such areas as projected size of crowds, quality of stadium and historical playing strength. There was an attempt to ensure all teams received reasonable coverage," says Harrison.