The National Basketball Association or popularly known as NBA is a seven-decade-old professional basketball sport in North America. The world’s most elite men’s basketball league, which comprises around 30 teams and has a firm grip in the USA and Canada, has already marched towards making its presence felt in India, which has the leading sports industry in Asia.
The initial steps were taken by the NBA in 2013 when the entity teamed up with the Reliance Foundation to launch The Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA program. Since its inception, the initiative has reached nearly 10 million youth across 13000 schools. The foundation has been developing the sport in the country at the grassroots level.
In September 2021, the Bollywood superstar, Ranveer Singh, was appointed as the brand ambassador for India by the NBA. Earlier this year, the actor was also invited by the premium basketball competition to the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game in Cleveland.
In December 2021, the NBA also signed a media rights deal with the Indian media baron, Viacom18. Viacom18 also provided Hindi broadcasting of all regular and marquee games for Indian audiences through its channels. NBA, while celebrating its 75th anniversary, also collaborated with Lakmé Fashion Week, India’s prime fashion event.
Earlier this year in May, Prasar Bharati announced the inclusion of the National Basketball Association G League and Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) on its regular basketball offering on Doordarshan. The North American football competition teaming up with India’s one of the oldest public service broadcasters, which is backed by the government, reflects the NBA’s intentions of entering the Indian market and expanding itself in Asia.
In one of the recent developments, the NBA star, Chris Paul made an investment in the Indian Premier League (IPL) team, Rajasthan Royals (RR).
Apart from NBA, Major League Baseball (MLB) and Major League Soccer (MLS) have also entered India through broadcasting deals.
In 2020, MLB teamed up with FanCode for offering live fixtures in India.
The Super Bowl 2022 was also telecasted on Star Sports, however, the event wasn’t accessible on the company’s OTT platform, Disney+ Hotstar.
The American sports leagues and personalities have gathered a proper understanding of the escalating Indian market and aim to explore it for lucrative returns.