The National Basketball League intends to ensure the long-term sustainability of the competition and its clubs by using a record new broadcast rights deal to help boost their bottom lines.
NBL owner Larry Kestelman on Tuesday announced the league had cashed in on its growing popularity at home and abroad by signing a multi-faceted media deal, which will see every game broadcast live on ESPN for the next three seasons.
Two games a week will be broadcast free-to-air, with a partner to be announced in the coming weeks, but all possible deciding games of the semi-final and grand final series' will be exclusive to ESPN.
Kestelman confirmed he had pursued a deal worth $15-20 million a year and, while he did not disclose the value of the agreement, said he was "happy" with the outcome.
It comes at a critical time when professional sports around Australia are reeling from the financial devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NBL has been on an unstable financial footing at various times throughout its history, with more than a dozen clubs falling by the wayside since the league began in 1979.
Kestelman said the new media deal is a financial "game-changer" for the NBL with the current 10 clubs to benefit from a revenue-sharing agreement with the league.
The line-up includes the newest franchise, Tasmania JackJumpers, which will debut in the 2021/22 season.
"Sustainability and providing the tools for them (the clubs) to be sustainable is our No.1 goal," Kestelman said.
"Being able to distribute some funds to them is a great start and it's something that I think will continue into the future.
"We already have clubs that are profitable and doing well and I think it's fair to say that we have some clubs that still have work to do.
"We have a renewed focus as a league to make sure that we give them both the tools and the assistance to make sure that they keep improving."
ESPN's buy-in, alongside media deals struck with the Foxtel Group and News Corp, comes on the back of a period of growth for the NBL under Kestelman's ownership over the last six years.
The successful Next Stars program, which has helped launch the NBA careers of LaMelo Ball and soon-to-be-drafted Josh Giddey, has sparked interest in the NBL overseas and it is seen as one of the world's premier development leagues.
"This is the first time for a very long time where there's been a substantial cheque written to the NBL," Kestelman said.
"We're going to keep investing in what our product looks like, to what the head office looks like and to what the NBL delivers.
"The investment is going to go back into the league and into the product.
"We're in this for the long-term.
"The league came from having almost no revenue to being sustainable, profitable and growing.
"That's our goal. We're going to continue to keep investing in basketball and in particular the NBL."
The 2021/22 NBL season is expected to begin in mid-October with confirmation of the schedule expected in August.
Games will be played predominantly on Friday, Saturday and Sunday timeslots under the new media deal, with some scattered on Thursday and Monday nights.
Australian Associated Press