It’s safe to say that the NBL.TV app and subscription service has been a raging success. For only five dollars a month, fans have been treated every single game of the 2016-17 season LIVE and on demand, classic games and weekly highlights for just the cost of a cup of coffee (or free if you’re with Telstra).
To continue the momentum built from the app’s early success, the league has made an enlightened decision to keep their NBL.TV service running through the offseason, and to add the Chinese Basketball Association Grand Final series and the Spanish ACB, to the fray of offerings.
Upping the ante even more, NBL.tv has added the New Zealand league, the NZNBL to its ranks, giving fans the opportunity to monitor their favourite players over in the Land of the Long White Cloud.
Seventeen current NBL players are suiting up for NZNBL teams. A quarter of all NZNBL players that have contested in a game in 2017 has had NBL experience.
But there remains a fantastic unrealized well of potential in our own backyard to expand the NBL.TV service – the South East Australian Basketball League, or SEABL.
For the uninformed, the SEABL is a 15-club league comprised of teams from South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania, ACT and New South Wales, and a squad from the Centre of Excellence.
The league has been running since 1981, and the list of former MVP award winners includes some all-time NBL greats, such as Anthony Stewart (2007), Shawn Redhage (2005, 2006) and John Rillie (2000) – Even All-NBA Third Team member Andrew Bogut cut his teeth in the league, winning the East MVP in 2003 for the AIS before heading off to college.
And there are many current and former NBL draw cards plying their trades in the SEABL season in progress. From older, more experienced guys such as Ben Allen playing for Canberra to the up-and-coming stars like Angus Glover for the Centre of Excellence, and then there’s Mathiang Muo, the league leader in points so far, who is looking to improve his chances to get back into the big league.
However, unfortunately, there aren’t many avenues to see these talented men play. And with the NBL actively looking to expose more hoops fans to more basketball and with SEABL potentially showcasing players signed to NBL rosters, the NBL has ample reason to add Australia’s second best league to the subscription service.
Showcasing SEABL basketball on NBL.TV would bring more high-level Australian basketball to the hoops-starved punters while giving valuable exposure to more players across the country.
Getting the idea off the ground wouldn’t be a walk in the park, of course. Some hurdles will have to be overcome but the potential rewards could be of the utmost importance to the future of Australian basketball.
The towns where the teams are situated, which are often rural, would be excited about the increased streaming service, as advertisements on the court and around the stadium would bring more money into the clubs. More money means teams can afford to pay for better players, which increases the standard of on-court play.
The broadcasting of games would also give NBL teams the opportunity obtain more game tape of their potential targets or opponents, instead of having to attend games, lessening their travel costs and helping clubs to maximise their profits. They would also be able to keep tabs on their contracted players who are competing in the SEABL.
However, there is currently no broadcasting of SEABL games, which would mean that infrastructure would have to be created from the ground up. Luckily the NBL and SEABL do not operate at the same time so cameras and other broadcasting equipment would be able to be shared between leagues.
The presentation would not be as professional as the NBL’s service yet local commentators could be brought in to fill in the gaps, creating more jobs.
There is also the problem that SEABL teams allegedly do not want to be closer with the NBL and would rather be their own entity.
If the NBL came knocking with the prospect of streaming SEABL games, the biggest problem would be on the financial end and could be negated through the NBL.tv subscription cost.
There may come a time when the NBL.TV coverage of SEABL is able to help SEABL become more financially viable. It may get to a point where junior basketballers forgo college basketball in the USA to play professionally in Australia all year round.
With the increase in salary gained from the NBL.TV revenue, players could potentially stay in Australia, near family and friends, and not miss out on the basketball development oppourtunities they may have received at a USA college.
The ability to play against fully grown men and more talented players while playing in Australia would surely be a huge boost for players wanting to better their careers.
That’s something thats would be a win for players as well as a win for Australian basketball.
To bring the SEABL into the world of paid streaming could be a potential boon for not only both leagues but basketball in Australia in general.
Offering Australian basketball to fans year round would not only contribute to the financial stability of the league but it would also give fans a deeper understanding of what this sport in this country has to offer.