SBJ/May 30 - June 6, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NBA broadens presence in India

The NBA is looking to broaden its emerging presence in India with a deal with Times Internet Ltd., one of the country’s largest media companies.

The league struck a deal that will create an NBA section on The Times of India website.
The agreement will create a dedicated digital NBA section on The Times of India and the IndiaTimes English language websites, with the content expected to be featured on other Times Internet Ltd. digital outlets.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Content of the NBA section on the Times site will include daily video, original NBA editorial from Times of India staff, features, and other NBA-related team and league editorial content. The NBA said that the traffic on the network on the two Times sites averages about 12 million users per month.

The NBA will join cricket’s Indian Premier League with a dedicated section on the Times of India site.

“When we see The Times of India group making the investment in the NBA as their second sports property, it is of great significance to us,” said Heidi Ueberroth, president of NBA International. “It is a real exclamation point to what has been a growth season for us.”

NBA content on the two sites launched last week in the buildup to the Finals and will be updated continually after that.
“[The Times of India staff] will drive the overall look and feel for the editorial in the section and the content will be a mix from their journalists and analysts from NBA.com,” said Akash Jain, senior director of business development and partnerships for NBA India.

The expanded digital effort is the latest in a series of strategic moves by the NBA to develop the league’s brand in India while also creating grassroots programs to increase participation in the game of basketball in a country where cricket is the most dominant sport.

The NBA began stepping up its branding efforts in India in 2009 when it created a localized site on NBA.com.

The NBA has nine marketing partners in India, and last year the league signed a deal with Taj Television to broadcast live NBA All-Star, playoff and Finals games while also rebroadcasting two regular-season games a week during prime time in India on the Ten Sports network. The league also has a television deal with Sony to rebroadcast two NBA games weekly.

The league in 2010 created the Mahindra NBA Challenge, a five-city youth basketball tournament, and has launched Jr. NBA and WNBA programs in the country. In mid-May, Milwaukee Bucks guard Brandon Jennings traveled to India to host youth clinics, and more grassroots efforts are planned throughout the country going forward.

In addition, the NBA this year began selling NBA merchandise in 200 Adidas stores in India.

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