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U.S. basketball talks turkey in Italy, Spain, Greece and ... Turkey.

"This is the first season we've done all of our distribution inhouse," reported Sandy Brown, director of television sales for The National Basketball Association (NBA). "In the past, we've used agents -- most recently, IBS - to do some of our distribution."

This escalation in the sales area reflects the rapid rise of basketball as an international sport (topped only in popularity by soccer). "Italy, Spain, and Greece are the hotspots for us," said Brown. "Turkey is also good and France, to a lesser extent. We're now in about 75 countries. Each year, the level and quality of coverage, meaning the number of countries taking our games, has increased."

NBA also has an in-house production ability. "We produce our international programming as well as our home video product, which is distributed in the U.S. by CBS/Fox and select market overseas. In addition, we produce a half-hour show for NBC seen on Saturdays in the U.S. called Inside Stuff, an Entertainment Tonigh-type magazine show about the NBA."

A highlight for the NBA will be the Fifth Annual McDonald's Open emanating from Paris this year, (October 18-19) featuring The Lakers. The NBA will also participate in the '92 Olympics.

"We see the international arena as the market of opportunity. By the end of the decade, we hope to be equal with, or to have surpassed, soccer in overall popularity. And television is paramount to that effort."

"We're looking at ways to create television programming on a market-specific basis, to educate our overseas audiences. In a country where viewers aren't as familiar with the players, teams, and the rules of the game, (as they are with soccer), we will create programming that achieves that goal. It includes an edited game, highlights of the week, slam dunks, bloopers, music videos, features, educational vignettes all rolled into a neatly packaged one-hour program. For example, Channel Four in the U. K did just that for the NFL, explaining to the British audience in colloquial terms, how the game is played. They used a British voiceover so that they could understand it. This was a big success. In the same way, we want to customize our program to a specific market -- we've targeted the U.K. and Germany for that approach. That's the level of sophistication we've reached with respect to marketing our product."
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Publication:Video Age International
Article Type:company profile
Date:Apr 1, 1991
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