NBA is committed to India and here to stay, says Diane Gotua

The first ever NBA pre-season games in India will have local flavour woven into the game action.

Harrison Barnes of the Sacramento Kings passes the ball against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena. (File Photo)   -  GETTY IMAGES

NBA India Games 2019 is a high-profile exhibition of pro basketball in the first week of October.

Two pre-season ties between Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers, on two consecutive days at the NSCI indoor stadium here, is a huge statement by the National Basketball League about the intent to tap into Indians craving for different sports.

Diane Gotua, NBA vice president of Global Business Operations, points out that the package for fans goes beyond live games.

Elaborating about the fare on offer for India fans, Gotua said, “Live NBA games is our bread and butter, but we have other aspects too. Something we have seen is quite successful is the Saturday Morning Live (through Sony channel), broadcast around 8.30am every weekend.

"We are not just able to serve hardcore basketball fans, but also trying to tap into the casual fan who may not have extensive exposure to NBA in the following years, in order to broaden our appeal,” Gotua said

“Content is not just live, but also non-game shows, showcasing other aspects of basketball in the NBA, whether fashion, lifestyle, music, players work in communities. We highlight all this, on top of their performance on court. Every market presents unique challenges and opportunities,” she added. 

Language Aspect

The first ever NBA pre-season games in India will have local flavour woven into the game action.

Beyond thrilling live basketball action, NBA India is also looking at language aspect.

“Two years ago, we started Hindi commentary (on Sony) for the NBA game show. Now 75 matches have Hindi commentary, which account for a quarter of our reach. Last season (2018-2019), the viewership for an NBA game was 91 million,” she said. 

IPL Impact

The Indian Premier League (IPL) impact and launch of other sporting leagues also firmed up NBA approach towards the business of basketball more vigorously.

“We have been here since 2007, built a foundation. The IPL started in 2008, there are so many leagues in so many sports. We see this hunger for sport in India now, we want to make NBA is (at) front and (in the) centre. Our fan base is growing and we want to make a statement that NBA is committed to India and here to stay," Diane emphasised.