The British Basketball League (BBL) returns to Sky Sports this week after nearly a decade away from our screens. This monumental milestone for the league comes as part of a two-year deal with Sky Sports which plans to air 30 live BBL league matches a season – with the London Lions playing in the first aired game on Thursday.
This is welcome news for many within the British basketball community who believe the game suffers here in the UK due to little to no national media coverage. Unlike the household names of the NBA in the US, the stars of the BBL lack a fanbase as a result of minimal exposure and not being at the forefront of the game, but with the league now back on our screens, could all this change?
Basketball is one of the world’s most popular sports with the BBL offering an exceptional level of basketball, featuring a plethora of talent from rising British stars to overseas journeymen and NBA veterans, yet the league has sat under the raider and without a major TV deal for nearly a decade. Although the deal is not a major one, it seems to be a step in the right direction for the growth of the league and the sport as a whole, of which until now has been unable to tap into the 6 million NBA fans here in the UK.
As part of the agreement Sky Sports will also air the BBL Trophy Final, BBL Cup Final, BBL Playoffs and live coverage of the Women’s BBL Playoff final. It promises to be a highly exciting time for British Basketball as the road to the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
Basketball has proven to play an impactful role in the lives of many, with clubs being right at the hearts of communities across the country, many already suffering hardship. It is now proving more vital than ever that the sport receives the support it needs to grow in order to remain a platform for inclusion, diversity and opportunity.
Kicking off the coverage, Sky Sports will air an opening night double header featuring the eagerly anticipated BBL Championship matchup between Newcastle Eagles and London Lions at the Eagles community Arena on December 3rd. Newcastle Eagles, the league’s most decorated side with 25 major titles, host a fresh London Lions side boasting some new additions to the line-up made in the offseason.
Braun Sheffield Sharks will tip-off against Cheshire Phoenix in the season opener earlier in the evening. Both matches will be live on Sky Sports Arena and Sky Sports Main Event from 4.30pm.