SuperSport slam-dunks deal with NBA

01 September 2013 - 02:16 By THEKISO ANTHONY LEFIFI
Africans can now watch NBA stars such as Houston Rockets' Dikembe Mutombo on SuperSport 9
Africans can now watch NBA stars such as Houston Rockets' Dikembe Mutombo on SuperSport 9

While the SABC was snoozing, SuperSport scored a deal with the National Basketball Association (NBA) estimated to be worth millions of rands for the pay-TV channel.

SuperSport has signed a three-year partnership deal that includes broadcast coverage in 47 countries in Africa. This happened while the SABC was deciding whether to renew its contract with the US association.

The SABC has been banking on basketball after losing the rights to broadcast cricket, rugby and the local soccer league to SuperSport. It has raised the possibility of a sports channel, but this has not materialised.

SuperSport will televise up to three live games a week as well as NBA All-Stars matches, play-offs and finals with commentary in several languages .

The coverage also includes all pre-season and regular season games played in Europe. These broadcasts will also be available on SuperSport's digital platforms.

The SABC had been showing three NBA matches a week.

The NBA's vice-president for development for Africa, Amadou Gallo Fall, described SuperSport, owned by MultiChoice, as an "ideal partner", although he refused to say how much the deal would cost.

DStv is in the final stages of launching SuperSport 9, on which the bulk of the NBA games will be shown. The new channel is being launched after the ESPN channel on DStv was closed in Africa.

Brandon Foot, SuperSport's head of acquisitions, said the new deal was a ''jewel in our crown''.

The deal announcement coincides with the 11th edition of Basketball without Borders Africa, a global basketball development and social responsibility programme that is run in partnership with the NBA and the International Basketball Federation.

The game was one of South Africa's fastest-growing sports in the early 1990s only to decline in the mid-'90s. Sports Minister Fikile Mbabula has, however, claimed that it is a "key sport to be played in schools".

Basketball in Africa is set to be a "significant contributor" to the NBA's balance sheet if it gets more exposure . The NBA invests about $1-million (about R10-million) a year on the continent.

Adam Silver, the NBA's incoming commissioner and chief operating officer, said a broader infrastructure was needed on the continent to develop the game further. He said the association was "committed" to Africa.

The NBA opened an office in Johannesburg in 2010. In total, 30 African players have played in the NBA. There are six on NBA rosters in the 2012-13 season.