Silver considers ways to help grow the sport beyond the US…
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has revealed that it could be possible that the schedule will be altered to accommodate the Chinese market in the future.
With China continuing to be a growing part of not only the league’s fanbase but also the commercial market, the current schedule isn’t particularly helpful in giving fans in the Far East the opportunity to watch games live given the time difference involved.
As a result, Silver has discussed the potential of moving to make it easier in the future by playing games at around 10 am on the East Coast which will undoubtedly help the global audience to schedule their viewing.
However, in contrast, it does risk upsetting the home fanbase, for example, would New York Knicks and Boston Celtics fans be open to attending games so early on a Saturday morning?
Regardless, Silver appears keen on exploring the idea in the future, and he believes it will be beneficial to the league as a whole if they did so.
“I think the biggest challenge (to growing the game internationally) is the time zone differences. I mean, for example, in China, roughly 12 hours different from the East Coast. So prime time games are on early in the morning, so you have to figure out whether we need to create new products, condensed games that are shown later, whether it becomes a business of highlights, whether it’s equivalent of tweets and other forms of social media,” Silver said at a Bloomsberg Sports Business Summit.
“I think that’s sort of — part of the biggest challenge. I mean, ultimately, whether we should consider time-shifting some of our games. Once the audience becomes big enough, maybe it’s not so crazy to ask a team once every two months to play a Saturday morning game.
“Yes, maybe when the audience gets big enough China and you’re reaching 100 million people in China to say so maybe once in a while a team will play at 10:00 on Saturday morning.”
Although the NBA is unlikely to make this move in the near future, it certainly shows their ambition of growing the game globally as opposed to being restricted in the domestic market.
With the Global Games continuing this season with the Milwaukee Bucks facing the New York Knicks in London in January as part of the schedule, Silver is continuing to explore ways to expand the league and make it more profitable.
It is undoubtedly a wise move financially and it is likely that the NBA will benefit significantly from the decision. However, the only sticking point is whether or not teams will be open to playing early games, particularly with the Knicks struggling in early afternoon games in recent seasons.
Nevertheless, as Silver mentioned, it is unlikely to be a regular occurrence, and players will arguably be grateful that it will not involve more travel.