A few months ago the NBL looked like it would be no more. Australian basketball legends such as Andrew Gaze were calling for the league to take a one year hiatus, while the then Wollongong (Illawarra) Hawks and the Townsville Crocodiles had just fallen into voluntary administration (VA) and didn’t look they would be able to dig their way out.
Now Mid-September and there is no better time to be an NBL fan then now. With a new ownership, a landmark broadcast deal with FOX and a large array of new and returning basketball talent prepared to take the court, the NBL looks like it’s about to head into one of its best seasons ever.
Without getting too ahead of ourselves the NBL still has a long way to go before fans should start asking for Larry Kestelman to run for Prime Minister (but heck, if he can fix the NBL from last year in less than a few months Australia must seem easy right?).
There is still plenty of room for the league to improve…. And here’s some of them.
1. Highlights, Highlights And More Highlights
The casual fan is going to want to be able to watch lots and lots of highlights, and no not the “Player’s losing the ball and shooting free throws” highlights, people want the “Josh Childress posterising Charles Jackson” type highlights.
This kind of exposure on nightly sports news programs is what’s needed to help convert some of the thousands of NBA league pass subscribers to into NBL hardcore fans.
— Sydney Kings (@SydneyKings) September 10, 2015
Take the NBA for example, take a look at their social media and you’ll see plenty of content available for anybody to share, including potential media outlets. The NBA YouTube channel is a cornucopia of highlights with different camera angles and commentary… even in the offseason!
The most important thing is the NBL need to make it as easy for rabid fans, casual fans and media outlets to access highlights from all NBL games.
But why not take it that one step further, why can’t the NBL post interesting interviews and Q&A’s with players and coaches, and no not the ones where you’re interviewing the players while their team is practicing behind them, and you’re barely able to hear the person they’re interviewing, but interviews in a proper room, with no background noise and a good quality microphone.
And please, somehow, can we get a “Top 5 Plays Of The Week” or a “Weekly Wrap Up” type show. Even if it’s 5 minutes. When Josh Childress posterises someone that should be going viral on Facebook. When Kirk Penney or Chris Goulding goes off for 50+ points in a 40 minute game media outlets should be able to get vision of every shot quickly and easily.
2.Make The TV Broadcast Interesting
Last year the NBL’s broadcast was at times boring and simply painful to watch, even if you were a hardcore fan. This year however the NBL has a new broadcasting deal with a new company (FOX) and with that comes an opportunity to make the broadcast much more interesting and eye catching.
Let’s make the broadcast more engaging to casual fans so they can be transitioned to hardcore fans. Put a twitter feed throughout the game to engage fans and families. I mean imagine, as a kid how exciting it would be for your tweet to show up on TV!
Give viewers so insight to these teams and let them know why they should care about this match up. In the past simple things like taking a look at the team’s full lineup, a summary of how each player may fit into the game have been missed. This should be a staple combined with some photos, statistics or highlights of each player.,
Let’s build up player and time rivalries, Have the broadcast show highlights of previous encounters between these teams before the game starts.
Make half-time mean something. why can’t we have a couple of analysts sharing their insight into the game. We want to know the stats but simply focusing on them for the entire ten minutes between 1st and 2nd half is not engaging.
We want highlights from the game, other games from the round and maybe footage of players out in the community giving back.
3. Game Day Programs and Basketball Cards
While this idea obviously has some production costs involved it’s something which can get people engaged more with team and players.
Many people will have fond memories of growing up collecting futera basketball cards and while trading cards will probably never be what they were in the 1990’s, without cards today, what are young fans supposed to get signed after the game?
Having these player cards available at game venues pockets the league a few dollars and gives kids something to hand to a player and say “Mr Jawai can I have your autograph” and take to school for show and tell. Maybe make a few classmates jealous so they are at the next game in their area.
With the small cost it would be to produce these cards the questions is really not why do it, but why not?
They’re cheap, affordable, small and just overall cool. It’s a tangible way for young fans to promote the game to their friends at school the next day. The result is sure to outweigh what it would cost to get these cards developed.
Add that to ensuring all teams give out programs for each round, it’s something they’ve done in the past but it’s consistency here which we’re asking for. Every game we want a small basic program to tell fans why they should care about they game they’ve come to see and the league in general… as well as give advertising space to sponsors.
There are obviously many more (easy wins) the league could continue to roll out to keep the fans in their seats every week.
I’m certainly not trying to say the Larry Kestleman regime have done anything wrong so far, just hoping improvements are made on the visual product and game nights as well as within the league structure.
So if you’re reading this Larry, feel free to take any ideas and keep growing this game we love. Financial gifts are welcomed if you do.