Sunday 21 April 2019

NBA basketball moving from BT Sport after Sky Sports win the rights in new deal

LeBron James
LeBron James

Matt Slater

Sky Sports has announced a four-year deal with the National Basketball Association (NBA) to become the home of the world's best basketball league in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

The pay-TV firm picked up the rights after BT Sport walked away from renewal talks with the North American-based league this summer and it will now broadcast more than 170 live games a season.

Also included in the deal are online highlights, news, statistics and other digital content, with live games and highlights from the 2019 Women's NBA season starting in May.

The NBA, which is closing the gap on the National Football League (NFL) in terms of popularity in the US, starts again on Tuesday night with a Philadelphia 76ers-Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors-Oklahoma City Thunder doubleheader on Sky Sports Main Event.

In a statement, Sky Sports managing director Barney Francis said: "We're partnering with a really exciting sport that has a fascinating history and an even more compelling future.

"With some of the biggest stars in world sport, we know the NBA will bring drama and entertainment to our customers week after week, available across our many different platforms."

Coverage will include an average of five live games per week during the regular season, including 42 games in European prime time as part of the league's NBA Saturdays and NBA Sundays offerings.

Sky Sports will also broadcast four back-to-back games on Christmas Day from 5pm UK time, and extensive coverage of the All-Star weekend, the draft, the play-offs and the finals.

The Warriors, led by Steph Curry and Kevin Durant, are the pre-season favourites to add a fourth title in five years, but the Houston Rockets, who nearly beat them in this year's Western Conference finals, and Eastern Conference favourites the Celtics, are expected to mount strong challenges.

LeBron James' move from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Los Angeles Lakers is also likely to provide plenty of storylines.

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