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British Basketball League coverage now being shown live on Sky Sports

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Sky Sports will show 30 live BBL matches a season following a two-year agreement and have released the 2020-21 TV schedule

 

Following the start of the 2020-21 BBL season, Sky Sports showed two live matches last Thursday. The Newcastle Eagles, who are Britain’s most successful team with 25 trophies, beat the London Lions. Cheshire Phoenix beat the Sheffield Sharks also.

This comes after a two-year deal was agreed with Sky Sports to host a variety of games, with the TV schedule released up until February. This will involve both men’s and women’s finals, including the BBL Trophy final, BBL Cup final and the BBL playoffs.

Previously Sky Sports have covered the British Basketball League between 1995 and 2001, and again in 2010. Basketball across all of Great Britain has been under strain financially over the last few years, with a lack of funding invested into the sport. However it continues to rise in popularity across the youth levels, attracting more interest on British soil.

With the 2022 Commonwealth games on the horizon, this will certainly boost the profile of the sport. Increasing participation levels across the nation is a key objective for Basketball England. Former GB player Kieron Achara MBE, who played at the London Olympics in 2012, will join the broadcasting team to cover the games for Sky.

Sky Sports are also currently producing NBA coverage over the next couple seasons. They signed a four-year deal in 2018 to be the official home for NBA in the UK. This included the Finals, which saw Lebron James and the LA Lakers win their 17th championship.

The next BBL game to be broadcasted live on Sky Sports, will see the Bristol Flyers travel north to play the Leicester Riders.

“It is fantastic to be teaming up again with Sky Sports to bring the excitement and action of the BBL to basketball fans at home.” Sir Rodney Walker, chairman of the BBL, said.

“We are going to see some excellent games this season as there are incredible British and international players at all 11 clubs. We look forward to working with Sky Sports and Buzz 16 to showcase the best of British basketball over the next two years.”

 

What is the BBL?

Since it began in 1987, the British Basketball League has been the elite level for basketball in Great Britain. Currently there are 11 teams that compete each year to win that all-important trophy. Teams range from as south as Plymouth all the way to Glasgow. They also partnered with Basketball England to form the Women’s British Basketball League (WBBL) in 2014.

With the franchise system in place, like in the NBA, there are no promotions or relegations within the league. That being said, there have been new teams added throughout the years. This has helped the league grow and gain more exposure over time.

The top eight teams from the regular season qualify for the BBL play-offs, which are usually held around April time. Following the format of the NBA, the first placed team will face the eighth seed, the second will play the seventh seed and so on. Each stage consists of a three-game series before one final match, usually held at the 02 arena, is played as a grand finale to end the season.

The teams from the BBL also compete in the BBL Cup and the BBL trophy, adding to their list of fixtures throughout the season. Over time the popularity of Britain’s highest level of basketball competition has grown, with a few household names gracing the league.

Notable players include, NBA hall of famer Dennis Rodman, Ex-Orlando Magic player John Amaechi, Craig Robinson, former head coach of Oregon State University and Ovie Soko, GB men’s player and former Love Island contestant.

 

British Basketball on the rise

All basketball activity across the country this year was put on a halt due to the coronavirus pandemic. Despite that however, the sport continues to grow and gain more exposure across media platforms. TV coverage from Sky Sports offers a UK audience the chance to learn more about what the sport can offer.

According to statistics from Basketball England in 2018, there were over 300,000 people playing at least twice a month. Basketball England had over 33,000 members playing in over 700 teams across local and national league teams.

Sitting 42nd in the FIBA World Rankings, Great Britain are behind in comparison to other countries across Europe. However, the GB men’s team are competing fiercely on the international stage. Most recently, they’ve beaten 26th ranked Montenegro and 17th ranked Germany in the EuroBasket 2022 qualifying rounds.

Being the second most popular sport in England, in terms of participation, many believe the sport lacks respect and support in Great Britain. While there has been a lack of funding towards the sport in recent years, basketball continues to increase in popularity. Exposure gained from showing live TV matches, will certainly benefit the sport for the future.

 

Sky Sports BBL TV schedule

December:

London Lions v Plymouth Raiders (Friday 11th – 7pm)
Leicester Riders v Bristol Flyers (Friday 18th – 7pm)

January:

Cheshire Phoenix v Manchester Giants / Worcester Wolves v Glasgow Rocks (Friday 8th – 4.30pm / 7pm)
Sheffield Sharks v Newcastle Eagles (Friday 15th – 7pm)
BBL Cup Final (Sunday 24th – TBC)
Glasgow Rocks v Surrey Scorchers (Friday 29th – 7pm)

February:

Plymouth Raiders v Bristol Flyers (Friday 5th – 7pm)
Manchester Giants v Surrey Scorchers (Friday 12th – 7pm)
Newcastle Eagles v Sheffield Sharks (Friday 19th – 7pm)
Leicester Riders v Worcester Wolves (Friday 26th – 7pm)

 

We hope you enjoyed this article ‘British Basketball League coverage to be shown live on Sky Sports.’ Will you be watching the British Basketball league this season? Let us know!

 

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Joe is an aspiring sports journalist with an excellent knowledge and passion for football and basketball, with a wide-range of understanding in major sports. He studies Multi-Media Journalism at Bournemouth University and is currently completing a ‘year in industry’ placement, beginning his first 3 months here with us at Sporting Ferret! You can contact him on twitter: @joewillis_12

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