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Significant viewership & fans in east and south India, not just north: NBA

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MUMBAI: Basketball, as a sport, has grown by leaps and bounds in the country. In an exclusive discussion with indiantelevision.com, National Basketball Association (NBA) India managing director (MD) Yannick Colaco revealed his plans and ideas on how the game can be taken to the next level.

The MD shared his thoughts on making basketball a pan-Indian game, explaining, “I don’t think it is only concentrated in north India, contrary to the general idea. Looking at the broadcasting consumption, it’s not restricted to northern states as we’ve got significant numbers and ratings from the east and some of the best basketball teams in the country come from the southern states.”

The MD stated that he wants basketball to become the No. 2 sport in the country, a task which needs some working for now. With Sim Bhullar and Satnam Singh’s foray and exploits into NBA, the country is tapping into its talent for such inspiring stories.

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Sim Bhullar and Satnam Sing

Talking about 2016 as a whole, Colaco said that the year was defined by two key events. “The first one will obviously be the official launch of nba.com in India, which saw significant consumption online in the Indian market. The second one will be the continuation of localising our global product -- basketball, easing the way we present the game, and ‘Around the Hoop Show with Sony Six’ which got good numbers in terms of audience as  well.”

On his plans to boost the game in 2017, the executive said, “We don’t look at it on a day-to-day, month-to-month or year-to-year basis. We want to see basketball as the No. 2 sport in the country. It’s not going to happen in a few months, it is going to take a while and a lot of investment. We will continue to make the attempts and we are committed to the game in the long term.”

About the importance of growth at the grassroots, the MD also said that the organisation was working at that level and it was very important for the diversified growth of the game throughout the country.

On whether basketball has an edge over other games, the former CEO of Nimus Sports said, “It’s a pretty simple game. You don’t need complex equipment or tracks of land. There are no complex rules and all you need is a flat surface, a ball and a hoop. You can play alone; you can play with five people, a 3-on-3 or 1-on-1. The only other game which is similar in this sense is football, but it still needs a lot of space.”

The game certainly has seen a growth trend in the last few years and can become one of India’s most watched and played if the growth remains constant. Work at the grassroots level has been one of the defining factors for basketball in India, owing to which a lot of new players have come to the fore as passion builds.

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