SBD/May 2, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Projected Domestic Basketball League In India Scheduled To Debut Within Next Two Years

NBA execs believe basketball should grow in India as access to it increases
India is seen as the largest untapped global basketball market, and a projected domestic basketball league "is scheduled to debut within the next two years," according to Pete Thamel of SI. A joint partnership between IMG and India-based Reliance Industries in '10 "purchased the marketing and broadcast rights to domestic basketball in the country for 30 years." Meanwhile, the NBA also is "eager to exploit India's dizzying demographics." NBA Commissioner David Stern said, "I just see it as unlimited in terms of its potential." Stern said that he is "pressuring" Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver, who will take over for Stern in February, and NBA Int'l President Heidi Ueberroth to "grow the game faster in India than in other emerging markets." Thamel notes Nike, adidas and Coca-Cola, among others, have signed up as the NBA's "marketing partners on the subcontinent." Three NBA games are "televised every week in India on the channel Sony SIX," and league execs believe that young Indians will "use the latest technology to consume the sport, a hip alternative to cricket and soccer that should grow as access to it increases." Both the NBA and IMG-Reliance "will reap the benefits of each other's success, and reports have surfaced of a possible partnership between the two forces." However, full investment by the NBA "in a foreign pro league remains tricky." IMG Senior VP/Global Basketball Bobby Sharma said, "They have a multibillion-dollar brand to protect. That doesn't lend itself toward risk-taking, and doing business internationally in emerging markets by definition is risk-taking" (SI, 5/6 issue).
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