I love All-Star Games. For the past 5 years, I have planned my year around the NBA All-Star Weekend. Okay, more like I planned my week around it. But still. All-Star Games make me happy. It’s only natural that when the NBL decides it’s hosting an All-Star game this year, I’m stoked, right? Well… sorta.
I recently read an article on why All-Star games don’t achieve their goals, so maybe its the cynic in me (or maybe I just love reading what other people think before forming my own opinions?), but I have a feeling this game will be a massive fail. I know All-Star Games have low viewership and they ‘re expensive and they don’t exactly build any extra interest in the game but that doesn’t lessen my infatuation. If the NBA stopped having an All-Star weekend, I would… well, I’m not sure what I would do but I can assure you it wouldn’t be pretty.
But in this case, I’m hardly sure that anyone really cares. The NBL has low viewership (yes, I just cited a Wikipedia page – what of it?) and game attendance and considering the purpose of the game is to bring in extra revenue and popularize the game amongst non-NBL fans, I doubt that goal will be reached.
However, it appears that the NBL is treating this differently and I’m excited to see how it all plays out. If the NBL succeeds with this game, there will be three reasons why:
1. They say the game is “back by popular demand.” Okay, fine. But considering your fan base is less than 600,000 (less than 3% of the Australian population), it probably only took about 20 people to say they missed the game to be qualified as “popular demand.” This will be the first All-Star Game since 2007 and I doubt they would even consider it unless they thought it was good for the league’s image and people wanted to see it.
2. They got the fans involved. The fans voted in an online poll to choose the format of the game. They chose between North/South, East/West and International/Australian. As the image in this post shows, the fans opted for a North/South competition with four teams per side – how the game has operated in previous years. They’ll continue to involve the public as the game gets closer by allowing them to vote on which players participate.
3. The game will be (relatively) inexpensive to operate. Because it’s a smaller league, the associated costs might be lower than, say, State of Origin. There will be fewer sponsorship and broadcasting rights so therefore fewer conversations. There will probably be less security because it will be a smaller venue. Having just Aussies (and no internationals) means lower flying and accommodation costs. All around, it just seems to be a cheaper event, which means the profits will be larger.
But if they fail which, I’m sorry to say, is the more likely alternative, there will be lots of reasons why. Mainly…
1. The spectatorship is really low. There’s no getting around it. It just is. You can’t make money if no one wants to see you play.
2. The weird games make money, not the normal ones. Typically, it is the ‘unusual’ games that draw in more revenue. It’s a fact. If the league were concerned about income, should have opted out of the polling and just done Aussies v Internationals. I have to believe that if the Miami Heat – the current NBA champions – showed up, people would come see them play the Aussies.
3. The game will be expensive to promote. Even if the game itself is on the cheaper side, promotion and advertisements will be a bitch. The fan base is so small that if the NBL wants this event to be a success, they will have to work their asses off promoting it. When the NBA decides on its All-Star dates, it’s national news. The NBL isn’t even in the Sydney Morning Herald Sports section.
I love me a good All-Star game which means that on 23 December I will be sitting on my couch, wrapping Christmas presents and drinking egg nog (fine, I admit – just rum) watching the North v South. I just hope the NBL gets their shit together and starts promoting the hell outta this game starting… yesterday?