The New Zealand National Basketball League (NBL) has announced Sals Authentic New York Pizza as the major naming-rights sponsor for 2018, ahead of the season officially beginning next week. The competition is now named the Sals NBL.

NBL Chairman, Iain Potter, says this signing comes at a time of exceptional growth in basketball and the New Zealand NBL.

"We are delighted to partner with Sals Authentic NY Pizza, a company rapidly winning fans in New Zealand for its authenticity and a great atmosphere, which is exactly what the Sals NBL is doing too.

"Basketball is charging ahead in this country. We have more Tall Blacks games at home and Kiwis are much more familiar with our top players, we have Kiwis starring in European Leagues and the Australian NBL, and more players than ever in US Colleges, and we have fantastic talent coming up through the age-groups. The Sals NBL is a wonderful mix of all these players, who represent teams that are embraced by the hearts and minds of their communities. The Sals NBL is resurging and Sals has come aboard to help us grow our elite domestic competition," said Mr Potter.

Owner and Director of the popular pizzeria restaurants, Nick Turner, says Sals Pizza is enjoying fantastic support throughout New Zealand with 22 restaurants operating so far, mostly in the Auckland region, but also in Wellington, Tauranga and Christchurch. He says the company has plans to expand into other areas in New Zealand and that this partnership not only helps promote the recognition of the Sals brand, but is also an opportunity to give back and support New Zealand basketball.

"Sals Authentic NY Pizza is incredibly excited about our partnership with Basketball New Zealand and the 2018 NBL competition. Basketball is growing at a rapid pace around New Zealand and we are fortunate to be able to work alongside the New Zealand NBL and the eight fantastic teams around the country. Sals is thrilled to be on board and supporting basketball in New Zealand and we cannot wait for the 2018 season to begin," says Mr Turner.

Mr Potter says Sals naming right sponsorship leads a number of other exciting backers to the league.

"We are thrilled to see seven of the eight teams have their own sponsors, plus the TAB is trialling an endorsement by offering a signing bonus to anyone who opens an account through basketball. Theyll also take our livestream feed and play it on their website and App for their audiences."

In addition Mr Potter says the livestreaming data is one of the factors that are compelling for commercial interest.

"In 2016 we took a chance to invest in livestreaming a set number of NBL games. We started by livestreaming 26 games. In 2017 we boosted coverage 36 games. And this year we will have over 50 games. But each year the viewership has increased significantly."

The NZ NBL livestream data from the 2017 season registered more than 387,000 views and an average audience of 12,200 per game. Thats up 287% on 2016s 139,596 views. So is this the start of a return to the halcyon days of the 80s when the NBL had strong commercial backing and large television audiences? Potter says its possible.

"Basketball is surging in all areas of the game in New Zealand, so theres no reason why the NZ NBL wont become one of the higher viewed domestic leagues in time. For now though, we will celebrate our new partnerships, but also work hard to ensure we look after our sponsors and ask the basketball community to support them. So if youre ordering pizza before you tune into the game, make sure you get a Sals Authentic NY Pizza," says Potter.

The Sals NBL season officially opens next Thursday when the Taylor Hawks take on the SIT Southland Sharks and will be livestreamed on www.nznbl.basketball and www.TAB.co.nz

The Blitz tips off today at 5:30pm at the B&M Centre, Central Energy Trusts Arena in Palmerston North. Saturdays games start at 10am, 11:30am, 5:30pm and 7pm. Sundays games tip off 9am and 10:30am. Adult tickets $5. Tickets for children under 10 years of age, $2.

- This story has been automatically published using a media release from Basketball New Zealand