Following three successful years televising the Sal’s NBL across the United States and Puerto Rico, global sports broadcasting giant ESPN has renewed its agreement for another two years.
Every game in the Sal’s NBL 2023 and 2024 seasons will again be available to viewers in the United States and Puerto Rico via the ESPN App.
ESPN first joined the competition as an international broadcast partner back in 2020 when the Sal’s NBL created headlines as one of the world’s first sports to implement a "bubble" during the initial outbreak of Covid. The league’s unique and creative format came complete with a successful player draft and involved all teams living together at Auckland’s SkyCity for nearly two months.
Since 2019 the league has undertaken a rapid transformation both and off the court, and a growing American audience via ESPN has helped to showcase Kiwi hoops and create pathways for rising young stars, who are actively being recruited to the American collegiate system in big numbers.
The architect behind the original ESPN agreement was Justin Nelson, who at the time was general manager of the Sal’s NBL. Now based at Sky Sport where he remains involved with the league as a commentator, Nelson has been heavily involved in renewal talks and says the continued support from ESPN is a further sign New Zealand’s basketball scene is thriving.
“Thanks to the ESPN coverage over the last three years the Sal’s NBL has seen numerous Kiwis hit screens across the United States, offering them exposure that wouldn't have been possible before. The coverage has also helped plenty of international level players, Kiwis included, to shine in the spotlight and pick up further contracts around the world,” said Nelson.
“The growth of the league and its popularity offshore has been quite amazing, and now this extended partnership with our friends at ESPN will ensure fans from the world’s biggest and best basketball nation will be able to keep watching on as the next Steven Adams hopefully emerges from the Sal’s NBL in the years ahead.”
Basketball New Zealand chief executive Dillon Boucher hailed the ESPN partnership renewal as ongoing proof the Sal’s NBL is one of the country’s leading domestic sporting competitions, constantly rising in viewership, attendances and sponsorship year-on-year.
“The global coverage of the Sal’s NBL is arguably unsurpassed when it comes to any New Zealand domestic competition. Between Sky Sport, ESPN and FIBA YouTube, we have every game available to viewers in every country around the world, live. That’s impressive,” said Boucher.
“And with the coverage comes more eyeballs on our players. The Tauihi league is available to watch globally as well, so for our young men and women the window to the world is wide open and with it will come more opportunities for them to build international careers.”
The Sal’s NBL 2023 season tips-off on Thursday April 6. The full schedule is available HERE.
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