Larger text size Very large text size For local fans who came of age in the mid-'90s heyday of Leon Trimmingham and Robert Rose, the nbl basketball tv schedule of live basketball on free-to-air TV has been one of steady disappointments; the legacy of broadcasters like Bill Woods and Steve Carfino dissolving to a story of commercial oversight and half-hearted scheduling. Then the quality of the league deteriorated and the media interest also declined," says SBS's director of sport Ken Shipp. To think that a free-to-air broadcaster, and a public broadcaster at that, has the rights to show the entire league live is almost unheard of. Ken Shipp "We recently lost some of our key football rights, and I was looking for something that could replace that, and I think basketball as a global sport is something that makes a lot of sense for us," says Shipp.
Also on home. The league is contested by eight teams; seven from Australia and one from New Zealand. The eight teams play 28 games each during a regular season, 14 home and 14 away. Creating a fixture for their matches is an extremely complicated process. One reason is that the NBL teams are not the number one tenants of arenas, therefore must compete with major international concerts such as singer Adele and other sporting events for availability.
Even when a draft schedule is set, venue availability can instantly change, so alternative dates or venues, including interstate options, have to be renegotiated with clubs, accommodation providers, airlines, and broadcast services, impacting the entire proposal.
The model needed to cater for these vast complexities, enable changes to be quickly integrated, and take many external influencing factors into account.
Although KPMG had developed similar models previously, the nature of the complexities were vast and demanded unique constraints be considered. A world apart Overcoming geographical challenges had to be central to the model.
The scheduling model needed to account for travel time, total distance travelled, rest between games, as well as optimising any road trips to visit multiple destinations. This was complicated by teams, such as Cairns, which are located in areas that are served by fewer direct flights than major hubs like Melbourne and Sydney.
The final schedule improved the quality of TV matchups, improved ticket sales by spacing out home games, and addressed very stringent venue availability requirements for example, with some locations having very limited dates available for basketball.
Visions of equality No fixture permutation will ever be exactly perfect for all teams, and there is no magical formula to make everyone happy. Inevitably, clubs, the press or fans will voice concern that elements are unfair towards one team or another.
With the NBL looking to expand further internationally, with franchise options in other markets such as Asia being considered, this element will be key to formulating a broader fixture. It was also the first time that cost factors had been used within the model, influencing the schedule.
Venue rental rates differ between times of the year, as well as days of the week. These changes are amplified in major metropolitan areas.
For future development, KPMG has consulted with leagues around the world to explore including public transport schedules into the model, to minimise travel inconveniences, maximise fan experience and avoid any potentially volatile fan clashes. Metrics in player welfare, cost minimisation and broadcast requirements will continue to be improved upon to deliver a better fixture for players, commercial stakeholders and fans alike.