On behalf of the NBL Board, Sal’s Pizza, Basketball New Zealand and the nine NBL teams, welcome to season 2019.
Without doubt, the coming season will be remembered as one that helped us set the foundations for a strong, sustainable and exciting future. Across nine teams playing out of nine passionate basketball regions, the league has attracted some of the very best basketball talents.
From rising and established Kiwi stars, to our most welcome international players from basketball nations abroad, we truly have the ingredients for another exciting season. The depth of the league is at an all-time high.
At a time when basketball in New Zealand is setting new records for participation and overall interest, the growth of the Sal’s NBL will be driven by a fans-first approach. The fans come first - we want you to attend games, enjoy the spectacle, wear your favourite NBL brand passionately and engage with your idols out on court after the game.
This season will see higher levels of engagement and daily content delivered by the league, our teams and players. We will all lead from the front as we aim to get the fans closer to all the action than ever before.
Excitingly, every game will feature an opportunity after the final whistle for the fans to step on court and meet the home team for autographs and photos. The chance for fans, particularly young boys and girls, to meet the stars of the game highlights our collective commitment to taking engagement to new levels.
Put simply, if you attend a Sal’s NBL game you will get to meet the home team on court after the game. Have your items ready to sign, your phone ready to take photos and enjoy the chance to meet your heroes.
Off the court the league is building for the future. We believe strongly in revenue, fan engagement and brand. These three pillars are priorities and will serve us well should we maintain a steely focus.
In the past week we have announced an outstanding rise in broadcasting of the NBL and proudly boast partnerships with SKY, Prime and Stuff. These partnerships sit alongside advances in the digital space with Tribe (Official NBL App) and Limited Minutes (Official NBL Podcast). Across Australia, the NBL will also be streamed on the Pick and Roll website.
All up, more than 60 games will this season be televised live or live streamed.
Commercially, there has never been a better time for brands to align with the NBL. If your target market is the family unit then basketball is for you. The passion for and participation in basketball is fever-pitch. We have recently added And1 and our aforementioned broadcast and media partners to the Sal's NBL stable.
If not already, it’s only a matter of time before basketball races to the top as the most played sport in schools and across the community. Basketball is a global sport and one that brands need to strongly consider aligning with. We are growing rapidly and welcome the increased interest in the sport.
We don’t need to encourage kids to pick up a basketball, they are doing it day in and day out. It’s a natural obsession our youth have with the game and one that many other sports would love to claim.
This NBL season will be one filled with firsts, like the introduction of the Southern Huskies from Tasmania, our new media and fan friendly MVP voting system and greater resources managing the league.
There will also be some much-loved parts of the league coming to an end and evolving as we move forward, like the Final 4. From next season there is a desire to move to a Final 5 and have teams playing finals on their home court in front of their home fans. Exciting times that will again put the fans first.
Fittingly, we want to make this season’s Final 4 a basketball celebration. We look forward to sharing all the details with you shortly and encourage you to grab your family and friends to come and enjoy the Final 4 party this July.
To our officials - referees, scoretable, statisticians, ref coaches - thank you again for your ongoing commitment to the league. Your roles are vital to ensuring we deliver a great product.
Most importantly, the trusted volunteers across all clubs will be at the forefront of putting on a safe, inclusive and entertaining show. Thank you for your unwavering dedication to your club and the game. You too are vital to our growth and continued ability to deliver the goods.
And of course, a big welcome to our players and coaches. You are the stars of the show and we look forward to watching your athleticism and talents rise to the top. Good luck for the season ahead, play hard, put on a great show and enjoy the fierce competition we all expect to see in the Sal's NBL.
Across the league we are very fortunate to have many media representatives and photographers following us and reporting on the league. We continue to strive to ensure we service the media well and, given the popularity of basketball amongst the community, we encourage all media to give us a go and showcase the exceptional talents and entertainment we have on display each week. You won’t be disappointed.
Finally, to again emphasise why we do what we do - someone within the league recently asked me about the pecking order in the NBL, that is to ask who is more important and where do they sit? The players, coaches, administrators, sponsors, referees, volunteers and so on - who is more important?
My answer was simple. The fans come first and the rest of us sit equally under that. We are all striving to increase the fan base, viewership numbers and fully realise the enormous interest the community has in our game.
Hopefully that gives you a good taste of what’s to come and an insight into the league’s focus and intentions across 2019 and beyond.
Here’s to a great season, cheer loudly and show your passion with pride. The best of luck to all teams.
On with the show.
Regards, Justin Nelson (Sal's NBL General Manager)