A new five-year commercial deal between Sky Television and New Zealand's National Basketball League has been hailed as a game-changer.
The New Zealand pay TV broadcaster and Basketball NZ unveiled their new arrangement on Friday, with the promise that it will deliver unprecedented coverage and financial return for the sport, and its showcase national leagues for both men and women.
The new deal, which comes with a commercial element that will see teams directly benefit, and includes free-to-air coverage, will deliver more than 300 games a year of New Zealand basketball and is easily the biggest partnership in the league's 41-year history.
It also spearheads a revamped women's national league that will start in 2022, with player payments promised to be equal to the men's league
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"Together we've mapped out an entirely new strategy to take the fastest growing sport in New Zealand to the next level, to really drive the success and appeal of the game," said Sky TV’s head of commercial and events, and former NBL General Manager, Justin Nelson who tagged the deal a "game-changer".
"This will grow the game, in participation and viewership. It's difficult to describe how important this is and what a difference this deal will make.
"One significant change is how the Sals' NBL will now be able to revamp the women's national league and ensure player payments are equal to the men's league.
"It's a watershed moment for women's basketball," added Nelson. "There are very few competitions in any code around the world where this is the case."
Basketball New Zealand chief executive Dillon Boucher was rapt with the new deal.
"This is a coup for New Zealand basketball and the biggest ever partnership in the NBL's 41-year history," he said.
"As a former player and leader I see how important commercial partners are for growing the game. We're excited about how this long-term agreement with Sky will nurture men's and women's basketball here in Aotearoa.
"The visibility and support our players now have means they can showcase their skills and have a genuine pathway in the sport."
Sky TV chief executive Sophie Moloney hailed the deal as a special partnership between the broadcaster and one of its core sports.
"This is much more than a rights deal," she said. "Sky is providing direct support to each of the teams in the Sal's NBL, and we will be working closely with them to help grow the game and create superb experiences for fans.
"And I am personally particularly delighted that our support will enable the revamped women's national league to start next year, with player payments equal to the men's league."
The 2022 Sal's NBL men's competition tips off on April 7, with the revamped women's league set to get under way from July 1.
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