Australia’s top-tier National Basketball League (NBL) has named David Stevenson, the general manager of operations at Australian football’s AFL, as its new chief executive ahead of the 2023-24 season.
Stevenson will join the NBL in July after nearly seven years with the AFL, where he led the league’s annual game in China between 2017 and 2019.
He also assisted with the AFL’s Covid-19 response during the pandemic and the launch of Gather Round, the annual AFL festival that was held for the first time in Adelaide last weekend (April 15).
Before that, Stevenson acted as chief executive at the Western Bulldogs AFL club during their 2016 premiership season and had commercial roles with sportswear giant Nike for 17 years.
Stevenson said: “I’ve enjoyed my time at the AFL immensely and have learned a lot from [CEO] Gillon McLachlan, [CFO] Travis Auld, and the team over the last six and a half years.
“The opportunity to the NBL at this particular time was impossible for me to turn down as there’s clearly a revival of professional basketball in Australia and New Zealand under [owner] Larry [Kestelman] and his executive team’s leadership.”
The move will see Stevenson become the NBL’s first chief executive since Jeremy Loeliger stepped aside from the position to become the league’s commissioner in 2019.
Leoliger will continue as NBL commissioner and work with Stevenson on continuing the NBL’s growth.
Kestelman said: “The resurgence of the NBL has been undeniable, and we are widely regarded as the second-best basketball league in the world outside of the NBA, and bringing David on as chief executive is a significant step forward for us.
“We have achieved a lot in recent years, but we cannot afford to rest on our laurels and must push forward aggressively to engage more fans not only in Australia and New Zealand but across the globe and take the NBL to where we think it belongs.
“We want more eyes from around the world on our league, and we have big plans in place to make that reality.”
The domestic broadcasters of the 10-team league are pay television's Foxtel and ESPN and free-to-air Network Ten. Pay-TV broadcaster Sky New Zealand shows 300 NBL games each year across its Sky Sports channels, including FTA coverage as part of its five-year deal struck in December 2021.
Last November, the NBL gained coverage across Europe and Canada after striking a rights deal with DAZN, the sports subscription streaming platform. The tie-up sees DAZN make all NBL fixtures available on its platform for the duration of the agreement.
All matches during the last two seasons (2021-22 and 2022-23) were broadcast in China by digital streaming site Dongqiudi.
Last August production firm Jam TV replaced international sports and entertainment giant IMG as the production partner of the NBL for the next three years.
Meanwhile, the British Basketball League (BBL) has appointed Jose Garnes as its new chief content officer.
Garnes joins from SailGP where he worked as head of content for three and a half years overseeing all its content, including the production of the documentary series Racing on the Edge.
Before that, he served as senior producer for sports agency Sunset+Vine.
BBL chief executive Aaron Radin said: “We’re thrilled to have Jose join to lead our content team. We have demonstrated significant growth in the past year in content production, audience size, and engagement and Jose’s appointment to lead our broadcast, digital, and social media content will turbocharge those efforts and results.”
Last October, the BBL announced video production firm Brandvox as the league’s official broadcast partner for matches shown across its owned and operated channels throughout the 2022-23 season.