Saving Basketball Australia and the NBL

This is a follow up to an earlier post on March 28, 2008 entitled ‘Reviving A Brand – The ABC’S Of The NBL’.

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 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 – 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 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’.

Don’t forget to check out an earlier post I wrote on the NBL entitled ‘Reviving A Brand – The ABC’S Of The NBL’.

p.s. I saw this on YouTube and thought it was the funniest thing ever…


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  • Allen Taylor

    Nice writing. You are on my RSS reader now so I can read more from you down the road.

    Allen Taylor

  • Scott Fraser

    Hi Pete,

    Well done again. I wonder though if, in the midst of the excitement over the “potential” marketting deal, you’ve/we’ve skipped over the fact that the NBL will also be culled, again, down to 8 teams?
    With your nouse for marketting and given your arguments within this blog, how is it not possible to sustain 10 teams? Furthermore, how is it not possible to expand to a settled 12 team competition (balancing the playoff picture) if marketting is the key to success for the competition?

    Just some food for thought mate. Whilst I am happy with this outcome, i cannot say I am happy with the potential “expense” of the outcome.



  • Scott Fraser

    To add onto that- the comedy skit sort of points out what I’m trying to say. A re-launch will assist the brand, but more people will become disillusioned with their teams folding.

  • Bruce Hultgren

    Hey Pete,
    GREAT article mate.
    The scariest thing about all this is that the same people who have been running the sport from its’ power days to now – are the same people.
    If this was a business – everyone would have been fired – the books looked at and questions asked.
    How many reviews can one board go through?
    I don’t think ANYONE has asked these questions – from BA all the way down.
    For Australia to be voted number 2 – that’s for it’s elite development programs – woo hoo – fantastic – for the 600,000+ who aren’t amongst that (under 2000 athletes) group – what then?
    Another fan of the game wanting change – from everywhere!
    PS – Disclosure – yes – I am the owner and developer of the BillyBounce programs – who is VERY concerned about the status of the most popular game in the country.

  • Tom Nankivell

    Last summer my Architecture Studio project was to create our own designs for the currently underconstruction Western Australian State Basketball Centre (or what ever it will be called). We toured back house of Perth’s Challenge Stadium, had presentations from the designers of the underconstruction Perth Arena (new entertainment centre seating 13500) and were talked to be Ricky Grace. His input was fantastic in expressing the potential atmosphere from the players point of view. I asked him about the nature of the current Perth crowds and his response confirmed what I already assumed. These hardcores aren’t goning anywhere in regards to Perth, they are a mature crowd that dress in Red, really understand the 1% of the game and sound nothing like the winey sounds of school children from the early 90’s. I’ve watched a lot of youtube clips of the good years for nostalgia’s sake and thougth it I enjoyed it, it sometimes sounded like a teen pop concert, all that contrived DE-FENSE, in Perth’s case the crowd has grown up, I like that it feel’s anything but fairweather.

    Ricky said that as far as he know’s, the Wildcats will be keen on moving to the new Perth Arena. I feel somewhat optimistic about it considering Perth was still selling out the old 8200 seat Perth Entertainment Centre till forced to move to Challenge because of its closure. The old PEC like the new Arena have a fantastic location unlike Challenge Stadium. I belive a half house setup in the new Arena could easily accomodate the 4500 hardcores and another 2/3000 fairweather fans that left when capacity limited by the smaller Challenge stadium. Andrew Vlahov likened the last seasons at the PEC to a college atmosphere, which is fanstastic and in a streamlined competition I hope is achievable again.

    On another note, NBL uniforms have become progressively worse since the late 90’s, granted I hated the trendy pinstripes then too. Far too baggy these days and logo’s resting on the stomach instead of the breast, to messy with graphics as well. I recall reading an article on NBA uniforms writen by fashion experts in the US. They unanomously agreed that the erly 90’s fit was best with the shorts not too long or 1980’s short. And befor ethe like of Houston in 1995 started the trend of overcomplicating the tops with full logo’s. Uniforms are the same as many thing were simple is best, no logo, just clear letters and bold, solid colours. South Dragons is probably the current best in this regards.
    In the NBL teams have been changing tones of blue and co. almost every season and some of the uniforms look like Joseph’s Technicolor Dream Coat. I want to see teams return to minimal and orginal colours. Perth with Black, Gold and Red, Adelaide with Red, Yellow and ROYAL blue etc. I want away tops to feature the City’s name instead of the mascot, provoke more regional rivalry state who you are and where you are from instead of representing a mascot. I guess it worked somewhat in the late 80’s erly 90’s when local brewerys sponsored many teams and the Australian brewing scene was then very parocial.
    After all that ramble I’d like to see a new league control uniforms likr the AFL were they are kept somewhat clear and need league permission to change them. There is such thing a loyalty to the shirt, the brand and it makes it hard when it’s changing every second season with different colours or tones (looking at Adelaide the most). The AFL kep the jersey’s clean with neat restricted areas for sponorship logos which I really like, I’m supporting Perth, not Saville. Like the AFL keep the sponsore logo minimal in the front upper breast or shoulder then on the back a larger sponsorship logo under the players number. As I’m a designer, I’ve even created a few concept uniform designs for the new league containing traditional colours and all that I’ve mentioned, once finished I’ll send them to BA for fun.

  • Pete Williams
  • Pete Williams

    $200,000 to keep the Spirit alive

    By Tim Morrissey
    November 14, 2008

    FOR a lazy $200,000 you can buy a 10 per cent share in a basketball team almost no one goes to see and who play in a venue they’ve dubbed the “Ghost House”.

    Sydney Spirit owner Greg Evans is keen to sell off 75 per cent of his team to keep the franchise alive.

    A copy of Evans’ investor document titled “Sydney Basketball A New Beginning” shows he values the Spirit franchise at a “conservative $2 million” despite falling crowds and corporate sponsorship.

    On Wednesday night just 1430 fans turned up at Sydney Olympic Park to watch the Spirit end a losing streak and beat the Gold Coast 115-93.

  • Pete Williams

    I thought I’d grab a bunch of the YouTube video responses and post them here as well –

    AiRcAmErOn (4 months ago)

    Great video, I agree!


    AiRcAmErOn (4 months ago)

    Check out Hoopcity Magazine (not trying to spam), it’s trying to help basketball in Australia.


    LJMBRIS (3 months ago)

    Well Said Buddy,

    I am studying the Economics of Professional Sports at the moment and intend to write an assignment on this topic. If I come to any worthwhile conclusions I’ll let you know!


    JodeciFeenin4crack (3 months ago)

    I believe the downfall started way back when NBL and Ten parted ways.Growing up I remember watching games shown in prime time at like 8:30pm of Friday nights and then they got moved to late nights after the late news but I still would watch the games and Ten had that basketball show on Saturday hosted by Steve Carfino and Bill Woods. Then it was shown on ABC for a while and Foxtel but it became really confusing to know when games were even going to be on so I just gave up.


    JodeciFeenin4crack (3 months ago)

    Just to add I was a Kings fan and back when it was on after the late news I remember Kings games were on most of the time (for me)so I guess ch10 programmed the games to suit where it was being shown. When the NBL moved to ABC they’d hardly show Kings games so that was a big reason why I lost interest.

    I remember going to a few Kings games in ’94 and the entertainment center used to be packed and also the Kings were always doing stuff at schools etc.


    JodeciFeenin4crack (3 months ago)

    I remember meeting lots of Kings players at many different events, Dean Utoff,Bob Tuner (coach) Matt Neilson twice, Issac Burton (who was a really cool guy) and a few others who I can’t recall.


    mcgoogan29 (3 months ago)

    this is what we need! if you are from the nbl board, watch this movie and start acting dumbasses

    saucynugget15 (2 months ago)

    very good video great understanding of what the NBL needs to promote itself to the people of Australia.


    sundyluke (1 month ago)

    too bad the people on BA board dont seem to be in touch enough to even look at things like this or other forums, they are more out of touch than politicians


    CStyleRecords (1 month ago)

    They do have a look. And have a great LAUGH around the water cooler.


    CStyleRecords (1 month ago)

    I gave you a shout out in y NBL rant video.

    Check the video response.


    Amitboy1980 (4 weeks ago)

    nbl is good should put back on tv please free to air tv gwn win tv abc i buy it put money on it


    IncreaseTV (3 weeks ago)

    I played in NBL I hope they can get it together!!! Tee Wilson Wollongong Hawks-98-99 season!


    Bundynelle (2 weeks ago)

    The NBL fell apart when CEO Bill Palmer was sacked. Its too late for my team. I supported the Brisbane Bullets for 23yrs and no thanks to Eddie Groves we have no team. He marketed the game to 3yos & his girlfriend and not the schools. If the girls can get Free to Air TV Coverage, why not the men??? Even late at night. I saw the Bne Bullets in 1985 on ch10 after 11pm and I was hooked. Only 25% of Aussies have PayTV.


    mavclo (3 days ago)

    NBL is dead, period. How many teams need to go into debt just to realise this? Kings, Bullets, Slingers have gone. Spirit, Taipans & the Hawks are about to. What will the playoff picture look like? If you have enough money to make it to the end of the season then you are in the play-offs it seems. We just don’t have a Basketball culture in Australia any more unfortunately, it is no longer like the golden 90’s.


    mavclo (3 days ago) S

    PS. Sorry, no free to air as well, ha ha,. Even the lawn bowls has free to air!!

  • Pete Williams

    Also – I want to let you all know about some YouTube videos that MC ClintDogg made in ‘response’ to my original video:


  • HO

    Nice conflict of interest with the billy bounce stuff. Internationally endorsed…lets just clarify that misleading statement shall we. internationally endorsed by whom? An authority? An expert? endorsed in Dubai obviously could mean the local fish and chip shop holder thinks its a good idea.

    And while i will not defend aussie hoops… how is it a failed program? where is the data and facts that support that allegation?

    And finally can you please supply the reference for your claimed 1.8 million “unique basketball fans” who have visited the NBL site in that period. Sorry, that claim is astonishing and needs to be substantiated if you are going to claim yourself as an expert.

    You have a lot of good ideas here, terrific, but your blog makes a lot of unsubstantiated claims.

  • Pete Williams

    HI HO.

    Fair points; To answer them:

    1/ Billy Bounce: I mention in the original post on the topic (link at the start of this post) that Billy Bounce has been endorsed by Five Star Basketball; which is generally recognized as the worlds leading Basketball education/training organization; as well as be some government thingys in Dubi and India (I can get further details if needed)

    2. Regarding the OzzieHoops and website visitors elements of the post, they come directly from the NBL’s own ‘NBL Future Direction Report’ from memory; again linked to near the top of this post.

    Hope this clears a few things up…


  • HO

    thanks Pete.

    I quickly scanned the report. The UB’s are for the Basketball Network, whatever that is, and specifcally does not include the NBL, which is not what you have said here.

    You stated Aussie Hoops was failed, not them – can you tell us why? I think aussie hoops, when well run, is fantastic, probably billy bounce, when well run, is fantastic as well…. the opposite is probably true, both aussie hoops and billy bounce probably both suck when poorly run.

    Billy bounce had a good run at a number of country associations in the early part of this decade, not sure anyone saw a surge in participation as a result.

    The quality of participation development in this country is not in question by the way, everyone agrees it is very good, particularly in Victoria, so it would appear to me whether its Aussie Hoops or Billy Bounce or Biddie Ball or whatever an assocaition runs, its working.

  • ukfeline

    Ok, being American, our TVs are overrun with NBA-this and NBA-that, endorsements from the MVPs, the biggest losers, the most scandelous and any other familiar face to make a dime. There’s a certain amount of loss to every basketball fan out there that just can’t spit out a measly $50 or $100 bucks to go to a game, much less take anyone with them! The idea of letting kids in under the age of 12 for free is awesome! Of course, infants can get in free of charge, but they don’t really influence their parents spending habits much nor do they really build an enthusiasm for the sport. Whether it’s here or there or anywhere, it’d be just awesome if someone would remember that it’s a sport and without it being fun *AND* affordable, no one’s going to come see anyone play. I wish the Aussies all the luck in the world to keep the fun alive!

  •!AF840FE51CEEE7DA!107.entry Kareen Altmiller

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  • @preneur

    @AndrewMBogut Here’s 2 blogs I wrote about the NBL 2 yrs ago, that are still applicable today: +

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  • @preneur

    Big Thanks @AndrewMBogut who put some life back into the Bball Aust debate last night with RT’s of

  • @caseystevens

    Excellent article on reviving basketball in Australia by @preneur: I thought the NBL was long dead

  • Pete Williams (@preneur)

    @DanielEade @aussiehoopla The two articles are at: and

  • @aussiehoopla

    Here are the blogs @AndrewMBogut tweeted about & this one which we discuss on the latest podcast

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Pete Williams is an entrepreneur, author, and marketer from Melbourne, Australia.

Before being honored “Australia’s Richard Branson” in media publications all over the continent, Pete was just 21 years old when he sold Australia’s version of Yankee Stadium, The Melbourne Cricket Ground For Under $500! Don’t believe it? You will! Check out the story in the FAQ section (it really is our most asked question).

Since then, he’s done some cool stuff like write the international smash hit ‘How to Turn Your Million-Dollar Idea Into a Reality’ (+ the upcoming ‘It’s Not About the Product‘) and he’s created a bunch of companies including Infiniti Telecommunications, On Hold Advertising, Simply Headsets and Preneur Group.

Lots of other people think he’s pretty good too! He’s been announced as the Global Runner-Up in the JCI Creative Young Entrepreneur Awards for 2009, the Southern Region Finalist in the Ernst & Young 2010 Entrepreneur of the Year, and a member of SmartCompany’s Top 30 Under 30.

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