NBA discussing returning to UK says Deputy Commissioner -

NBA discussing returning to UK says Deputy Commissioner

NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum says the NBA are having discussions to return regular season games to the United Kingdom.

Between 2013 and 2019, the O2 Arena hosted a regular season NBA game once a year but the international games have remained outside of the UK for the past five years and counting.

“We’ve had several years of playing games in the UK up until recently where we started playing games in France,” Tatum said during a call with international media.

“But I will tell you that we are having discussions about returning to the UK at some point down the road because we know that there’s such a huge passionate fanbase of basketball fans in the UK.”

The NBA first appeared in London in 1993 for a preseason game between the Orlando Magic and the Atlanta Hawks, while the first regular season games came in 2011, a back-to-back showing of the Toronto Raptors versus the New Jersey Nets – the second of which fans got their money’s worth as it went to triple overtime.

As well as having their European headquarters in London, the NBA also has the biggest Jnr NBA leagues in the world in the UK and have just opened a bigger, signature NBA store on Oxford Street.

There is also new British representation in the league, with two-time Hoopsfix All-Star Classic select Jeremy Sochan drafted to the San Antonio Spurs in 2022 and Newcastle Eagles product Tosan Evbuomwan suiting up for the Detroit Pistons this past season.

Jeremy Sochan Career High Spurs

“When you have players from all these different countries in the league, they are driving interest.

“With Luka [Doncic] … league pass subscriptions in Slovenia are up nearly 50% year over year … and the Mavericks are the most watched team in Slovenia, so that’s the kind of impact we’re seeing our players have in the local market.”

UK basketball fans are used to breaking up their sleeping patterns and staying up through the night to watch NBA action. That’s not the case for Sunday 6pm games, but the choice of teams in these games can sometimes leave a lot to be desired.

“We are constantly looking at that,” Tatum continued.

“One of the things we’ve done for the past several years is to have that prime time schedule in Europe. So we have our teams play in the afternoon here in the US so that it’s in Prime time in Europe, and so we now have a regular slate of those games.

“We have to continue to look at the matchups. What we try to do is make sure we are exposing the market to not just one sort of team or one sort of player, but we will continue to look at who we are putting on in those markets and make sure they are relevant to the different audiences where we are showcasing our games.”

There will be a record 13 international players in this year’s NBA Finals and it will be shown across 214 countries in 60 different languages.

In fact, 75% of NBA viewership comes from outside of the USA with this regular season the most watched globally in five years.

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