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ESS acquires NBA telecast rights till 2006

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SINGAPORE: ESPN Star Sports, has announced that it has acquired live cable and satellite broadcast rights to NBA for the next four consecutive seasons, the first of which began last week.

The channels will carry two live games a week during the regular season, the star-studded All-Star Weekend and three live games per week during playoffs. In addition ESPN will carry the entire Western Conference finals of this season as well as the NBA Finals. This agreement covers India, most of Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea. The NBA is also available in China on Star Sports. In the Philippines, there will be two live NBA playoff games each week through the first two rounds of the playoffs.

An official release informs that with more Asians playing basketball in the NBA, specifically Chinese players, NBA action is gaining ground in Asia. With Mainland Chinese players Wang Zhizhi of the LA Clippers, Mengke Bateer of the San Antonio Spurs, and most recently, top draft pick Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets set to make waves in the NBA, the fan base in the region is expected to expand considerably as more and more Asians get into the game.

The NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers, with superstars Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant, will be looking for a fourth consecutive Championship title, while Eastern Conference Champion New Jersey Nets led by Jason Kidd and Chris Webber's Sacramento Kings will be among a host of teams looking to dethrone them.

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