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NBA AT MID-SEASON: A LOOK AHEAD AT INTERNATIONAL EXPANSION
Published February 10, 1995
As the NBA prepares for its All-Star weekend in Phoenix, papers from around the country this morning are offering perspective on the league. The NBA bills the "three days in Phoenix as a celebration of American's hippest sport," writes Roger Thurow in this morning's WALL STREET JOURNAL. The weekend is "a mighty sell-abration," the best vehicle for peddling the games most-marketable personalities to the NBA's foreign markets." Commissioner David Stern calls it "a real-brand builder." Thurow looks at the NBA's international expansion efforts. As the league gains on soccer as "the world's most popular sport, the NBA brand, manifested by their merchandise of its 29 teams is getting to be as ubiquitous as cans of Coke, especially in Europe and Asia." International sales of NBA products is expected to hit $350M for the year, and the league has "jumped heavily into cable, satellite and direct broadcasting and now claims to be the largest provider of sports programming in the world." NBA Entertainment is the hub of the international effort, where league highlights and shows are sent around the world. Stephen Hellmuth, VP/Operations at NBA Entertainment: "Most everything we do, we're thinking globally" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/10). LABOR UPDATE: On the labor front, there is "growing unease about the lack of progress" toward a new CBA to replace the one that expired in June, according to Gary Kingston of the VANCOUVER SUN. The NBA and NBPA had hoped to "have a framework of an agreement" by the All-Star break, but the two sides are "still far apart." NBPA President Charles Grantham: "Definitely, we are on a collision course." Grantham says the "biggest thorn" in negotiations is the owners' reluctance to identify, and share, some of the revenues generated by the league, "particularly the take from licensing and merchandise." Currently the NBPA receives $500,000 annually from licensing and merchandising, which goes into an annuity. Grantham: "It's embarrassing. The league will do about $3 billion in retail sales this season. We assume their take is somewhere around 5%. That's $125 million plus" (VANCOUVER SUN, 2/10).