By Barry Janoff
November 8, 2012: The NBA, which has been on a global march to bring its version of hoops to the world, has made a significant expansion to its presence in India.
The league said it has signed a new multi-year TV deal with Multi Screen Media India, a division of Sony Pictures Entertainment, that makes its MSM's Sony Six sports channel the NBA’s exclusive broadcast partner in India.
The NBA and MSM have been aligned since the 2010-11 NBA season when they signed a non-exclusive deal, but this new pact "represents a substantial expansion" of that partnership, according to the league. Financial details were not disclosed.
The enhanced alliance includes live NBA games, original and customized programming and a focus on "engaging Indian youth by bringing together talent from the NBA, Sony Entertainment and Bollywood."
The NBA and MSM said they would also create "host grassroots basketball events on the ground."
The NBA has a dedicated Web site and YouTube and Facebook destinations for fans in India among other activations within the nation. Fans are able to purchase authentic NBA jerseys and gear at more than 200 of adidas' nearly 1,000 stores located throughout the nation.
A promo spot airing on Sony Six proclaims that the NBA is "the biggest basketball league in the world." As game-action shots of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and other stars flash by, a voiceover touts "the arrival of the titans, the finest basketball stars, the cheering fans, the unbreakable team spirit, 30 teams, one of the world's most popular sports . . . It's here. The spectacle of NBA."
Sony Six plans to air live NBA games each week on Thursday, Friday and Sunday (with replays in prime-time). The Sunday game will be the “Game of the Week” featuring an NBA match-up airing that day nationally in the U.S.
The first games air this weekend, including the Portland Trail Blazers-Los Angeles Clippers, Boston Celtics-Philadelphia 76ers and Memphis Grizzlies-Miami Heat.
In all, fans in India will have access to 72 NBA regular season games, up to 18 NBA playoff games, the Eastern and Western Conference Finals, the NBA Finals and NBA All-Star events including the All-Star Game, All-Star Saturday Night and the Rising Stars competition.
“We are thrilled to associate with the NBA as its exclusive broadcast partner in India,” Man Jit Singh, CEO for Multi Screen Media, said in a statement. “The NBA is the largest professional basketball league in the world and we at Sony Six plan to tap into the youth segment that already has a passion and love for the game and grow new fans. Our channels’ focus on India’s youth fits very well with the audience that wants to watch basketball."
According to Matt Brabants, svp for MSM's International Media Distribution, “Sony Six has a great track record of engaging Indian youth through sports and entertainment which makes them an ideal partner to bring high-quality NBA broadcasts to our fans. Through live games, increased local programming and comprehensive league recaps we will deliver more ways for fans in India to experience the NBA than ever before.”