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Basketball slam dunks in Eastern Europe.

Economics seems to be one of the reasons why basketball has become so popular overseas, said the NBA's sales manager Sandy Brown. "You have a ball and a net. You can play it just about anywhere, as opposed to football or soccer, where you've got to have a field."

"You can look at any number of factors. Baseball is truly an international sport. It's an Olympic sport, it's easy to play and it's very low maintenance. From the standpoint of the NBA's growth overseas, we try to work very closely with the federations in each country to build the sport of basketball. We've done that throughout television through |clinics,' and we try to market licensed apparel.

"Last year we did four |clinics,' this year we did eight, next year we'll probably double it. We take former NBA coaches like Mike Fratello or Calvin Murphy to various places in Europe, and do |clinics' for coaches on the university and scholastic level. We do the same for kids.

"It's important for us from the standpoint of grass roots. Our growth internationally is solely going to come from trying to aim TV programming to kids."

Brown said that he has a mission to increase baseball's popularity to countries other than those in the Mediterranean, where the sport has been traditionally popular. "We've got to go out there and build the brand. We want to be in the position where we are respectful of each individual market and utilize the talents that we've garnered here in the States. We want to be cognizant of all the cultural barriers you encounter." Brown hopes to do this by making new countries viewer-friendly.

Brown has made some headway into new markets - France (McDonald's Open will be televised on FR3) and Holland. "I think we're going to see some over-the-air deals in Scandinavia, which we hadn't had before. Things are really moving along. We're in 80 countries now. Last year it was 72. We'll probably pick up a few more before the season," Brown said.

The NBA executive mentioned that the sport has shown interest in Eastern European nations and Russia, but the latest interest in Eastern European nations and Russia, but the latest interest is forming in Brazil, Argentina, China and Taiwan. "Turkey has been marvelous. Last year the NBA was one of the two top rated sports programs there on TRT-1."

He admitted that the NBA has been methodical in its "slow-but-sure-fire" way of marketing the sport internationally. "Rome wasn't built in a day. Neither was NBA's popularity."
COPYRIGHT 1991 TV Trade Media, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Company Profile
Publication:Video Age International
Date:Oct 1, 1991
Words:422
Previous Article:Baseball hits home run in Europe, Latin America.
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