Wednesday, March 3, 2021

In France, the NBA unfolds its show and its business

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Posted today at 4:46 p.m.

French LA NBA fans hesitate between excitement and disappointment. After all, the American Basketball League made its comeback on December 22 after a previous season marked by the pandemic. But ten days earlier, lovers of the orange ball also learned that the NBA would not return to Paris in 2021, because of the health situation. A heartbreak when we know the enthusiasm caused by the meeting of the Charlotte Hornets against the Milwaukee Bucks, the first official NBA regular season game played in France, at the AccorHotels Arena on January 24.

Adam Silver, boss of the National Basketball Association, had promised a comeback of his own before the two teams even entered the field. Because the operation was already a success: 140,000 people had rushed to hope to buy one of the 16,000 tickets, sold between 65 and 650 euros and sold in barely ten minutes. As for the sponsors, fourteen partners were associated with the meeting, a record for a match outside the United States. An undeniable success.

Market number one

In the field, the case is less heard. The victory of the Milwaukee Bucks (116 to 103) was sluggish, in a meeting with very low stakes (it is only one regular season game out of the 82 played by each team each championship). Regardless, the NBA offered its usual American-style show in front of a conquered audience. It must be said that the French are very good customers.

The Hexagon is the number one market in Europe for the sale of derivatives, first in online sales of the NBA Store, in the number of views of the NBA’s YouTube channel and of followers on its Instagram account. Once seen as a night owl nerd practice, watching the North American Championship has become fashionable today.

“When I arrived on the channel in 1985, the NBA in France, it was zero. The French only knew of American basketball as the Harlem Globe Trotters. »George Eddy, commentator on Canal +

Arriving discreetly in the mid-1980s, the NBA has succeeded in establishing itself in a country dedicated to football and rugby. His interest ? Economic, above all, sporty, not so much. Thanks to its financial power, the NBA is today an unbeatable machine, serving a soft power which does not say its name. And French basketball does not know what it can get from this affair.

The American league especially owes its debut in France to Canal + and George Eddy. The former professional basketball player has become “The voice of the NBA” for francophones. He was above all the first. “When I arrived on the channel in 1985, the NBA in France was zero, The commentator unfolds in impeccable French but with a strong American accent. The French only knew of American basketball as the Harlem Globe Trotters. “ It is Charles Biétry who is betting on the NBA on the air. And the chain’s sports director at the time did not chat with the American League but directly with the New York Knicks team.

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