Looking around the crowd, I see a Lakers cap, a Garnett jersey, an Anthony jersey and a Jordon North Carolina jersey. A reasonable person would assume I’m at a basketball game, but no. I’m at the second day of the Boxing Day Test match and basketball supporters are all around.
NBA is alive and well in Australia but a change in television programming has robbed Aussie audiences of NBA games on our free-to-air channels.
Facing cost cuts after two financially unsuccessful years, the Ten Networks decision to shift Channel One from a live sport broadcasting network to a series of recap shows has many fans in uproar.
As the cost of broadcasting rights dramatically increases with the growth of each game, One’s coverage of NBA gives non-subscription television audiences zero NBA games. No live games, no replays, no professional games, no college games, no high definition – nothing.
Half hour recap program Omnisport may occasionally show a freak act of athleticism by Lebron James nestled in between episodes of Beach Patrol.
In a year that live sport coverage in Australia is taking its biggest stride in history via a mammoth AFL deal to broadcast every single game live, One has turned the ball over.
A nation of underdogs, Aussies watched in angst last season as huge underdogs Dallas upset powerhouse Miami to steal the championship. Basketball interest was steadily increasing down under and a return to Australia for ex-Portland Trailblazer Patty Mills had Australia’s NBL gaining unusual support.
A few months later, many Australian’s don’t know the NBA season is two weeks in and even more don’t know national superstar Mills has left the NBL to play in China where he has recently been sacked for allegedly faking an injury.
Hungry for ballin’, only two options exist for NBA fans. The first is to subscribe to Foxtel where there are three to five live games each week, another three to five replayed and a bunch of college games. With the shortened season, there is between 30 – 40 games each week.
The second is to subscribe to NBA.com’s league pass which is unbelievably good value for passionate fans. Viewers can watch any game live; in fact if you want to watch four, then you can with multiscreen! With various packages available ranging from entire regular season to just the games of your favourite team, viewers who have been shunned by One into purchasing the pass, will never return.
The loss of advertising revenue for One may not seem significant due to the time zone differences in live game viewership (live games were broadcast morning/midday), but this signals the slow demise of Channel One as Australia’s only free-to-air sports channel.
With game passes available for all major American leagues, the quality in comparison to One’s dismal effort will quickly send once-television viewers, online.
Channel One, you had a good thing going and you blew it.