The WNBL and NBL are two ‘no-go’ zones for writers when it comes to discussion about free-to-air coverage (all it does is create havoc on your twitter account). I enjoy the havoc, so I welcome this topic with open arms. Last year the NBL announced a landmark agreement where all NBL games will be broadcast on an online service called NBLTV, for a moderately priced once-off fee. How successful it was in the first year the deal is irrelevant, let’s just be grateful we have it. The WNBL also further progressed their deal with the ABC, allowing a live game on a Friday night each round, and a replay the following day at 4pm. Sure, not exactly ‘every game live’, but a step in the right direction (also does not cost a cent).
You might question the point I am getting at here… I haven’t reached it yet.
The problem I have is NOT with the agreements put in place, but the criticism that has flowed in, and the major stakeholders in each league that are being detrimental to each league’s deal.
Here are five complaints that have surfaced over the course of the 2012/13 NBL and WNBL season…
Complaint number one: “The NBLTV commentators are bad”
Call me biased (being one and all..), but watching basketball on mute is hardly a gratifying process. The fact that punters have the opportunity to watch their team on a weekly basis is a plus, jumping down the throat of broadcasters less than a year into the deal is really not helping the game ‘grow’. Gratitude is the best attitude.
Complaint number two: “The NBLTV agreement is so much better than the WNBL agreement”
This has baffled me for months. The Wildcats fill a 12000 seat stadium regularly, and the Waves (I say this with the utmost respect) battle to get 500 to a game. Why would basketball Australia implement a WNBL TV format when some teams battle to fill a stadium with an audible crowd?
Complaint number three: “Why can’t WNBL teams stream their games live on to the internet when ABC are not broadcasting their game?”
It might seem logical to think that this is holding back the ‘exposure’ of the WNBL, but why have an exclusive broadcast rights agreement with a provider like the ABC, when any team any time can broadcast their games live? It defeats the purpose of an agreement… I praise BA for not allowing teams to do this.
Complaint number four: “I don’t want that mic in on my time-out” + “I don’t want an interview, get my assistant to do it” – WNBL coaching staff.
The biggest advocates for WNBL exposure are often those heavily involved at a club, yet when radio and TV broadcasters try to ‘expose’ their team and league, they do not want a bar of it. Does Carrie Graf think that teams are going to use the audio to scout her plays she has been running for the last ten years? Let people do their job, allow listeners and viewers to enjoy their experience, and maybe just focus on coaching. PS a half-time interview for thirty seconds really is not that difficult.
Complaint number five: “The NBLTV stream always lags and is not very clear”
It is in its FIRST YEAR people! Everything happens in steps. If BA tried to implement NBLTV with the best possible stream (expensive), best possible commentators (expensive) and best possible technology (expensive), do you think it would even have gone ahead? It will progress with time, but it has to happen progressively. Don’t forget you can pay $40 for a ticket to go watch your team in real time.
Less complaints and more praise for BA. We are a nation that can watch more of our sports live, at a fraction of the cost the rest of the world pays.
Let’s all just relax, be patient, and just enjoy the fact that we can watch our men and women perform at all…