Now that people are recognizing the potential ramifications the departures of starting-caliber NBA players for Europe’s greener, favorable exchange rate-having pastures, I can’t help but wonder — who here in the States will capitalize on the opportunity to televise American players on these teams?
If I were a cable network vying with ESPN for dominance of the lucrative young male demographic, say Versus or Spike TV, I’d look at buying up some rights for Euroleague basketball on the cheap. This notion of pro players looking overseas isn’t going to die out soon, and giving it some US play will only increase the validity of Euroleague in American eyes, both fans and players alike.
For that matter, skip TV. There’s potentially even a BETTER suitor — Yahoo! Sports, AOL Sports, or Sportsline.com. For a relatively small sum (since the Euroleague would practically pay for someone to take them into the American basketball viewing market), you could OWN the sport here in the States, as far as coverage goes: webcast games live around the world, create a robust online archive of Euroleague basketball available online and through mobile devices, offer Euroleague fantasy basketball — leverage your own media reach to build the league’s notoriety over here and around the world, doing all the things that the NBA has been so tortoise-level slow on adopting themselves. It’s exactly what ESPN is doing with the AFL (Arena Football, for the uninitiated). And unlike football, where lower quality play is painfully apparent to the viewer (and has to be compensated for with 50 yard fields and Astroturf just to be remotely bearable), basketball is still good viewing when the talent level drops a bit.
Just a thought.