The Basketball Africa League (BAL), the pan-continental professional league, has secured broadcast partners across 215 countries for its expanded second season, which got underway on Saturday (March 5).
The 12-team BAL has agreed renewed rights deals with several major broadcasters including Canal Plus, ESPN, NBA TV, Tencent Sports, and TSN.
In the US, the opening game was shown on ESPNews, with the finals to also air on the channel. All the remaining games will be available on the ESPN+ streaming platform.
In addition, NBA TV will broadcast all 38 games live or delayed in the US and around the world, while every game will be live-streamed on the NBA App, NBA.com, and NBA.com/BAL.
For the second consecutive year, Canal Plus and ESPN will air every BAL game across both French-speaking and English-speaking countries and territories in sub-Saharan Africa.
Canal Plus will also produce and distribute original programming about the league, including an eight-episode magazine show.
ESPN will air the finals in select countries in Asia-Pacific, the Caribbean, and Latin America, and all BAL games will be shown on ESPN’s digital platforms in the same regions.
Meanwhile, Voice of America (VOA), the state-owned international radio broadcaster, will broadcast 31 games across its network in Africa, including select games in English, French, Portuguese, Kinyarwanda, and Wolof.
Additionally, this year, VOA and the BAL will collaborate on additional programming including weekly podcasts that will air across their respective online platforms.
BAL games and programming will also be available in Canada and China again via pay-TV broadcaster TSN and Tencent Sports, the sports platform of the internet giant, respectively.
Elsewhere, American Forces Network, a service distributed in 168 countries to American military forces on overseas bases, will air select games live and on a delayed basis throughout the season.
In total, the BAL claims its second season will reach 215 countries and territories in 14 languages.
The league’s 38 games will be played in Dakar in Senegal, Cairo in Egypt, and Kigali, Rwanda over the next three months.
The BAL, a collaboration between the NBA and Fiba, the international basketball federation, was launched in 2019 and represents the North American league's first involvement in a competition outside its home market.
The first season began last year, 12 months later than scheduled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with Egypt’s Zamalek crowned champions.
Amadou Gallo Fall, BAL president, said: “The BAL is back with an impressive group of world-class broadcast distribution partners for our expanded second season.
“As the competition intensifies and travels to more cities in Africa, we are excited that BAL games will reach more fans across Africa and the world on devices and platforms they use most through our partners and the official BAL website.”
The 12 BAL teams, which represent 12 African countries, have this season been divided into two conferences – the Sahara Conference and the Nile Conference. Each conference will play a 15-game group phase.
The top four teams from each conference will qualify for the BAL Playoffs, which will feature a single-elimination tournament and finals at Kigali Arena from May 21 to 28.
New Fortress Energy (NFE), Rwanda Development Board (RDB), Nike, Jordan Brand, and Wilson have all returned as BAL foundational partners, while the league’s portfolio of sponsors also includes Flutterwave and Hennessy.
Meanwhile, Belgrade in Serbia has replaced Berlin as the host city for the climax of European club basketball’s elite EuroLeague.
Euroleague Basketball, the organizer of the competition, opted to move its Final Four from the German capital due to restrictions imposed by the country’s government on capacities in sports arenas due to the ongoing pandemic.
The matches will now be held at the 15,500-capacity Stark Arena in Belgrade instead of the originally planned Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin.
Berlin. which was awarded hosting rights last July, has previously staged the Final Four in 2009 and 2016, while last year’s edition also took place in Germany with Cologne playing host, albeit behind closed doors.
The Final Four schedule has also been altered with games brought forward by a week. The semi-final matches will now be played on May 19, while the third and fourth place game and the final will take place on May 21.
Jordi Bertomeu, the Euroleague chief executive, said that “after much deliberation, we have made what we consider to be the best decision for our fans and players. Our main objective is to respect the integrity of the competition and reduce uncertainty for all our stakeholders.”