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SBD Global/June 15, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NBA Finals Helping To Fuel International Popularity of League

Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka speaks multiple languages during interviews.
This year's NBA Finals are experiencing a "large surge in international viewership" driven by a "vast number of networks and online outlets that are televising the event," according to Alicia Jessop of FORBES. This year, 90 int'l TV, radio and online outlets will air The Finals, including 14 "first time" int'l networks. The networks are located in Cameroon, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Mexico, Mongolia, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa and Turkey. NBA Int'l President Heidi Ueberroth said, "Fans want to see the very best compete and what's unique in our sport is that the best players in the world play in our league." The int'l media has taken notice. About 12% of all media covering The Finals "are international media members." There are 227 media members representing 34 countries -- other than the U.S. -- credentialed to cover The Finals (FORBES, 6/14). In Oklahoma City, Gina Mizell reported that the int'l flavor of the NBA Finals "was evident after Game 1." Oklahoma City Thunder player Serge Ibaka, who is from the Republic of Congo and represents Spain in int'l competition, "answered more than 30 percent of his postgame interview questions in a language other than English." China's NBA television partner, CCTV, "expects this to be the most-watched NBA Finals in the country's history." Canal+France broadcaster George Eddy said, "It's grown with the communications and Internet boom. The evolution is incredible" (THE OKLAHOMAN, 6/13).
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