Saturday, October 14, 2006

It's about time. But, hang on...

Finally, finally, they are going to show basketball on free-to-air television. Again. Well, sort of.

Here is the link to the story.

And here's the quote that raised my eyebrows somewhat:

NBL Commissioner Rick Burton said the new agreement with Nine [free-to-air TV station] would greatly complement the existing Philips Championship live coverage on Fox Sports [pay TV].

“This is another major step forward for the Philips Championship and we believe this additional coverage on Channel Nine will help significantly grow interest in basketball across the country” Burton said.

In years gone past, basketball was BIG in Sydney. People all over the place were seen wearing the team's gear, you'd hear of people going to games, you'd go to one or two games during the season yourself, you'd flick on the ABC to watch a game every now and then, you'd talk to others about the results, and at the very least you generally knew how the Kings or the Razorbacks were going in the comp. And the games were packed. I'm certain that at least part of this was due to the coverage on free-to-air television.

Then they made the interesting decision to only show games on pay TV. And coincidentally, the game virtually disappeared into obscurity. Particularly for us poor clods who cannot afford Fox Sports. Oh, are the Kings in the grand-final? Oh, OK, didn't know that.

About 18 months back Ali and I went to a Sydney King's game and it was a little depressing to say the least. Despite being held in the Sydney Entertainment Centre, there were very few people there, and many of the corporate and court-side boxes were empty. A terrorist with a bomb would not consider it a worthwhile target.

Now they are putting it back on free-to-air to try to undo the damage of the past mistakes and to "significantly grow interest". Grumble, grumble. All this is going on, and meanwhile every time I turn the telly on, I see a commercial from the stations exhorting us to support the stations in their fight against the Pay TV operators and the government to keep "free" sport on free-to-air. See this for a little further commentary.

While I am happy that basketball has returned to free-to-air, I am not happy that it has gone to Channel Nine. It is only a highlights package, and will probably by bumped for other content, particularly cricket or yet another dog-down-a-well-exclusive, at every available opportunity.

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