NBA India to unveil slew of initiatives to popularise basketball

MUMBAI: The arena for non-cricketing sports, which saw an expansion last year, is seeing a similar thrust this year too. One of the properties - National Basketball Association (NBA) recently launched a new look to the along with Jabong. It is the league’s official online store in India that will include new team and player shops, a new spring collection of NBA merchandise, and a large selection of NBA player jerseys to fans in India.


Another of the sports properties - the NBA JAM visited 16 Indian cities last year, which according to NBA India managing director Yannick Colaco drew a good response from over 3,000 teams that participated. At one point, entries had to be cut off as the additional teams could not be accommodated. The winning boys and girls teams from each of these cities went to the final play offs that was held in Pune. Industry sources peg that close to Rs 12 - 13 crore was spent on this initiative at the grassroots level.


“The focus and primary objectives remain the same for us this year. It is to grow the game of basketball and continue to grow our fan base. We achieve these goals of ours through multiple platforms - from our grassroots programs like NBA Jam and the Reliance Foundation (RF) Jr NBA program to providing live and packaged content across media, to making available a wide range of merchandise through our online store;,” says Colaco.


The Junior NBA programme this year was held in eight cities and reached out to a million kids in the country. 


Colaco goes on to add that NBA India will continue to work closely with its partners in India including Sony, Reliance Foundation, Jabong, Coca Cola, Adidas and Spalding.


Spelling out plans for NBA this year, Colaco says that it will continue to grow the footprint of its grassroots programs to bring NBA experiences to even more fans. “We are also focused on more localised and customised content for our fans in India - on television and digital. We are planning a lot of innovative stuff around content and recently brought on board Mairu Gupta - who specialises in the digital and social media field - to give us added impetus in the space,” informs Colaco.


When quizzed on why he is bullish on the social media domain, Colaco explains, “Social media is important to us as our target audience is primarily under the age of 25. This is the medium for the present and the future for our TA and is consequently a crucial component of our growth plans. In the next three to four months, we plan to launch quite a few exciting initiatives in this space.”


The newly renewed site showcases new collections with more than 350 on and off court products and features a collection of player jerseys offered to fans in India. Jerseys recently added include those of Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, San Antonio Spurs forward/center Tim Duncan and Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard. 


Meanwhile, NBA and MSM had first announced a partnership during the 2010-11 NBA season. This was followed by a multiplayer three year deal thereafter. The contract ends during the latter half of the year and will be up for renewal.


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