Many BiE readers already watch national basketball leagues online. Few of you do it legally. Most of you would like to. LiveBasketball.TV (full disclosure, we’re an affiliate site) do an admirable job in covering domestic leagues but they are limited by the rights available to them. With limited coverage on TV networks for European leagues outside of their home market, fans in other territories are forced to root out a feed.
We’ll get to the business reasons in a moment but first off look at it from the fan perspective. A combination of emigrants and hardcore hoops fans want to watch a lot of basketball. They go to streaming sites to get their fix because right now it’s pretty much the only choice they have. The streams are unreliable, in both scheduling and video quality. This limits who is watching to those who will go the extra mile or 20 to watch a game. Yet still, thousands of people watch streams of domestic leagues every week. Certainly there are those who want to avoid paying but the vast majority would be thrilled to have a more reliable on-demand service. The fans want to watch basketball; they go where they must to do so.
Domestic and pan-national leagues, such as the Adriatic and Baltic leagues, across Europe are leaving money on the table. There is already a partner there with the infrastructure to provide the service. Think of the upside. The Bundesliga wants to be the biggest league in Europe by 2020 but outside of Germany it’s a nightmare to watch it. The ACB in Spain has two goliaths and a solid set of teams just below the top rung, again with limited viewers because of where the games are available. Many leagues have international deals they would have to work around but the business challenge isn’t all that daunting when you consider this. An awful lot of games are being streamed already by one type of provider.
Betting websites provide streams to supplement their live betting service. In some territories these are geo-blocked but they show the feasibility of providing international streams. The next step is to take control of this. Working as a bloc, European leagues could put together a package that would make an attractive add-on to LiveBasketball.TV’s current offering. Let’s not kid ourselves, the politics of getting different leagues to work together won’t be easy, but if a few can come together it would set the wheels in motion.
Add €30 per year to the existing package on LiveBasketball.TV and say you throw in France’s Pro A, the Bundesliga, and Italy’s LegaBasket A. None of the teams from these leagues are likely to make the playoff round of Euroleague but the sheer weight of games at their disposal makes the product appealing to fans looking for their fix. It’s essentially money for nothing for the leagues involved and once they started to see the benefits, particularly with more people talking about games in social media, the ACB, TBL, and A1 would take notice.
Basketball fans in Europe are basically screaming at domestic leagues to take their money. They’d be crazy to turn them down.