As the popularity of the NBA continues to grow across the world, Africa is increasingly becoming a key market. Despite the overwhelming preference for football as sport of choice for many Africans, basketball has steadily grown in stature and as a result, broadcast rights have become a more marketable commodity.
In line with this, the National Basketball Association (NBA) has announced the confirmation of a rights deal which will delight basketball lovers on the African continent. NBA have confirmed that basketball games will be broadcast across the continent. This follows a brand new television rights deal that has been reached with Canal Plus Afrique.
The pull of the NBA for the African audience could linked to the fact that a number of African stars played immense roles in developing the NBA’s worldwide appeal and also grew to become legends of the NBA.
Nigerian Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon was top draft pick in 1984 and eventually went on to become a two time champion with twelve All-Star nominations and multiple other awards including being only player to receive the MVP Award, Defensive Player of the Year Award, and Finals MVP award in the same season.
Similarly, Congo’s Dikembe Mutombo was a four time NBA Defensive Player of the Year an eight-time NBA All-Star nominee after having been selected fourth overall by the Denver Nuggets in the 1991 NBA Draft.
After the exploits of its foreign stars, the NBA has grown increasingly diverse with the 2013–14 season opening with a record 92 internationals comprising over 20 percent of the league.
While the financial details of the new deal and its specifics remain unknown, it is understood that the deal will begin on January 1 and will see official NBA games available to all subscribers on the Canal Plus Afrique platform.
Subscribers will be able to see two games weekly- on Tuesday as well as on Thursday. The deal also specifies that Canal Plus Afrique will broadcast games across these basketball games across sub-Saharan Africa with the exception of South Africa as that would constitute an infringement on the NBA’s broadcast deal with SuperSport who hold the broadcast rights to NBA games in South Africa.
Analysts suggest that the deal could further boost the impressive growth of Canal Plus Afrique in Africa with data suggesting that it could reach a subscriber base of three million by 2017.
In French-speaking parts of Africa, Canal Plus Afrique, a subsidiary of Canal Plus operates in more than 30 countries in Central and West Africa, including Madagascar. In 2014, Canal Plus also confirmed that its international business currently accounts for 40 percent of the Paris-based company’s earnings and subscribers.