An Open Letter To Basketball Australia and the NBL…
Firstly, let me say ‘well done’ on the vote yesterday to merge the NBL & Basketball Australia – It was always going to be a battle to try and progress the sport, when the face of the sport (NBL) can’t keep teams in it’s league.
As FoxSports.com.au reported “Australian basketball officials have celebrated a momentous day in the chequered history of the sport in this country, with an unanimous agreement to bring the national and domestic organising bodies under the one umbrella.”
The best part of what has been reported thus far is “With this agreement, the new administration is set to press ahead with its negotiations with Fox whose proposal is believed to include live coverage of every game in a revamped NBL from the 2009-10 season onward, plus regular internationals featuring the Boomers and Opals”… I must congratulate whoever negotiated this ‘potential deal’ given “the 2007/08 final Championship game attracted only 68,000 viewers on Fox Sports” about 10% of basketball participants in this country.”
The one thing that I hope the BA board, club owners and everyone else involved in the league realise is that, “It’s not about putting a winning team on the floor”… Yes you read that right.
I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but most “profitable” ideas are.
As I really focused on in my original post, and DSEG incorporated into their ‘NBL Future Direction Report’, the “fans” who come to put their “bums” on seats are paying for a night of entertainment… and seeing their team “win” is only a portion of that entertainment “pie”…
I was at the Tigers v Breakers game in Melbourne last night, and even though the Tigers lost… Every single person in The Cage got their moneys worth and was entertained as the game went down to the wire… As did the Cairns v Wollongong game I was at last weekend.
This is even more evident in that fact that Australia is currently ranked as the number two basketball nation in the FIBA Global Rankings… but clearly this hasn’t translated into a strong supporter base, and proves the standard of play has little to do with the number of people attending games.
So invest in the ‘game-night’
I was really excited when I walked into the Taipans v Hawks game in Cairns last Saturday night, and was greeted by their Mascot pre-game… and again it occurred at the Melbourne match last night, where the Tiger was walking the corridors … but the Tigers took it to the next level with face-painting and give-aways. (Maybe some people inside the NBL actually took my first blog post on the topic seriously.)
What about approaching the Nintendo’s and Sony’s of the world and strike a deal where you can have Wiis and Playstations available to be played at the venue an hour before tip-off… Or team up with Rebel Sport, to get a portable hoop(s) to game night where you can run ‘most free throws’ in a row competitions etc etc…. Anything that can make game-night a family event… and help businesses get their products in-front of their target market.
In the DSEG report they mention “Commercial reform must address these issues but has limited funds to do so…. There must be a balanced budget which means that
the Board will be aggressive in pursuing commercial, government and non traditional revenue lines to drive this growth and to ensure a profitable business”.. and it’s these kind of initiatives that will result in the largest ROI, given their cost-effective implementation.
Also, what happened to the ‘best sign’ contests that every club used to run back in the 90′s where the best banner won a signed team ball ?? I won about 7 signed balls over the years, and still have not used any of them.
It’s All About Building A Community
As I ranted in a video on the NBL I uploaded on Youtube a month or two ago, which has had over 9,000 views (Watch Here), the ‘thing’ that is really taking over in marketing and business building today is ‘communities’ – Look at the facebooks, myspaces and all the other ‘social media’ businesses that are becoming the ‘places of choice’ – it’s all about community.
And according to the Dynamic Sports & Entertainment Group report, “More people play basketball in Australia than AFL,” - How much more of a community do you need?
And it’s this ‘community’ that the NBL has been missing. In my previous post I spoke about the need to get players back to schools and interacting with the fans; this all helps build a community.
Also, allow people to comment on the stories at NBL.com.au – My previous blog post received 28 comments (including one from a national coach), and this is typically a business/marketing site. Imagine what sort of interaction, feedback and conversations could be had on the nbl.com.au site, where 1,829,463 unique basketball fans have gone over the past 10 months.
Allowing these 1.8 million people to interact and converse creates a stronger bond and greater feeling of being “in” – which equates to more bums on seats.
Get back to schools
I am not sure what else to say about this one… Maybe this has to occur on a club level but surely you can pull rank and strongly encourage this from a BA/NBL level.
And I think the one unique idea proposed by Dynamic Sports & Entertainment Group to “Introduce a system whereby NewNBL and WNBL Clubs are allotted points for each interaction with a State/Territory Association and clubs must accumulate a certain number of points each season in order to retain their license the following season” is brilliant and one that should absolutely adopted.
Advertise the league - I’d like to see that.
The AFL’s ‘I’d Like To See That‘ campaign was one of the best pieces of sports marketing I’ve seen… and if the man behind the South Dragons inception, Mark Cowan, who owns a global branding and advertising outfit Cowan Design can’t set-up with a stella marketing/advertising campaign, than I don’t know who can.
The DSEG report mentions: “Declining crowds and TV market share and apathy towards its heroes have led to the NBL not taking its rightful place as a major tier one competition in Australia.” – I’m sorry but which players in the league are meant to be looked as ‘heroes’ ? You need to position and market the players you want the kids to latch onto…
Let kid’s under 12 go to all games for free…
Let’s face it, the economy is tightening up, discretionary spending is going to get lower and things like sporting events are going to get hit - hard. If you allowed children under 12 or 13 to go to the games for free it would make the night out more accessible for a lot of families, encourage groups of kids to get to games and build a strong ‘life-long’ bond with the sport like I did when I as younger… and translate into lots of ‘back-end merchandise sales.
Speaking of kids; why oh why would DSEG suggest to invest money (they openly don’t have) to “Re-launch Aussie Hoops in 2010 to be a truly nationally consistent program engaging junior players in the sport of basketball.” when there is a already developed, tested and internationally endorsed program available to them in ‘Billy Bounce’.
Billy Bounce was developed in Australia, by an ex-NBL player and endorsed in countries all across the globe (including USA, Asia, Ireland & Dubai) and will be easily and effortlessly rolled out across this country in an AFL Auskick style, if BA simply pull their heads out of their ass and allow an entrepreneur to ‘make some money’ himself along the way.
Yes, the reason (I believe) it wasn’t endorsed by the NBL and BA, is the the muppets who were in control at the time and ran the sport into the ground, didn’t want to see a ‘company’ to also make money with a junior program roll-out, even though BA and the local communities leagues would make significant $$ under the proposed model as well… So they went ahead and sunk a lot of money they didn’t have into a ‘failed’ AussieHoops program, that if relaunched will need to have more money thrown at it.
Allow Outside Help
Yep, this is blatant, outright and obvious pitch. I want to help. I know I can help…. Just ask.
Even though I would accept one of the DSEG suggested spots on the new “seven person Board made up of five elected and two appointed directors, all of whom are independent”, just ask me to sit in on some planning sessions, I guarantee I can make a difference to the sport I love in this country.
Once the league and clubs put their focus on making the game night an ‘event’… they will start to attract the ‘fans’… and the sponsors $$$ will soon follow’.