The NBA has inked a deal to become as commonplace in sub-Saharan Africa as it is in Spain or Italy. Econet Media will deliver NBA games across TV, mobile and Internet platforms beginning with the 2016-2017 NBA season. The deal will include 500-plus games a year and tons of complementary content like NBA Inside Stuff. Econet will deliver in African countries that speak English, French and Portuguese. It will make the NBA widely available “to a region with more than 900 million people,” says NBA Vice President & Managing Director for Africa Amadou Gallo Fall.
The returns for the NBA may not be in viewers alone. The NBA has done a tremendous job of finding talent from around the globe to make its teams better. (The San Antonio Spurs won a championship two years ago with more than half its roster born overseas.) Part of this success was seeded by the Dream Team’s 1992 Barcelona Olympics star turn — and how that team captivated the world and worked as an ambassador (and recruiting tool) for the NBA. NBA players have come from everywhere — but Europe has sent the lion’s share, not least because the NBA has been widely watched in Europe. The Africa deal promises to bring not just viewers, but eventually more NBA players from the region.