ESPN Continues Move into International Sports with FIBA Deal

We have covered a good deal of ESPN’s growing coverage of international soccer but it has now signed a new deal that will have it covering a sport that has been witnessing strong growth internationally for some time-Basketball.

The broadcast giant has signed a multiyear, multi platform deal with FIBA, the world governing body for basketball, which will enable the network to present a variety of games and championships.

The scope of the deal is big, with all of the games broadcast over one ESPN property or another with Internet and mobile broadcasts included. The deal will cover the rights to approximately 400 games from six tournaments played between 2013-2015.

ESPN said that it will have telecasts in both English and Spanish, and that all Team USA and Gold Medal Games will air live on ESPN or ESPN2, and ESPN Deportes. The network plans on televise every game of the tournaments across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3 and ESPN Deportes.

The agreement covers the FIBA Americas Championships (2013, 2015), the EuroBaskets (2013, 2015), the FIBA Basketball World Cup (2014) and the FIBA World Championship for Women (2014).

It will be interesting to see how well the games do, viewership wide. FIBA uses slightly different rules than the NBA, and I think that many hoops fans are only aware of different international leagues when a star NBA player threatens to play for one.

FIBA is the international body governing 213 National Basketball Federations throughout the world and is recognized as the sole competent authority in basketball by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) it has been butting heads with the NBA of late.

During the most recent Summer Olympics the NBA floated a proposal that there be an enhanced World Cup of Basketball, much like in soccer. There is currently one now but the according to some reports the new one would be run by the NBA, which would also harvest most of the profits.

The NBA, which gets no profit from the Olympics, paired the proposal with the idea that the NBA stops sending players to the Olympics. SO far this does not seem to be gaining much traction. On the flip side FIBA is now pushing to add 3 on three basketball to the Olympics.

FIBA to push for 3 on 3 Basketball as Olympic Sport

The International Basketball Federation (FIBA), which governs international basketball competition, is seeking to establish its three on three (3×3) version of the sport as an Olympic event in the coming years, it has said. It is shooting for the 2020 games at the latest.

While you hear about plenty of sports seeking Olympic recognition, 3×3 looks like it has an inside track. It has been played competitively, and by this we mean on a world stage not the inner city asphalt courts of its birth, since 2007 and made its worldwide debut at the 2010 Youth Olympics.

It is a widely played version of the sports and FIBA has massive federation membership numbers, with over 213 national federations spread over five geographical zones; Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania. FIBA said that it sees the sports adoption much in the way that beach volleyball followed indoor volleyball in to the Olympic camp.

Currently FIBA is launching a new three on three tournament that will follow its 3×3 World Tour. The world tour will have teams playing in six cities this year with several of them have already been played: Sao Paulo (July 14-15); Vladivostok, Russia (July 21-22); N.Y. (Aug. 18-19); Istanbul (Sept. 1-2); Madrid (Sept. 8-9) and Miami (Sept. 22-23).

There was a series of 70 qualifiers that were held to hone down the teams that were allowed to play in the event. The event looks to have an informal feel to it as aside from players’ skill events it also invites local street artists and DJs to perform and has an open to the public contest as well.

The Miami games will be the finals and there are a variety of teams broken down by age and sex playing in the tournaments. Nike and Samsung are major sponsors for the events.