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NBA nets free-to-air deal in South Africa with e.tv

Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers defends against Patrick Beverley of the Los Angeles Clippers (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

The NBA basketball league has agreed a rights deal in South Africa with free-to-air broadcaster e.tv.

The multi-year agreement names e.tv as the official free-to-air partner of the NBA in South Africa and the broadcaster will air more than 65 games throughout the 2019-20 NBA season.

Coverage will be shown on the e.tv channel and via the broadcaster’s Openview free-to-air satellite-television service. Rights will include one Christmas Day game, the NBA All-Star game, the NBA Conference Finals, the season-ending Finals and the weekly magazine show NBA Action.

The deal takes effect tomorrow (Saturday) when the San Antonio Spurs host the Boston Celtics. Over the course of the season, e.tv will air two games per week, including one live game as part of the league’s NBA Saturdays initiative.

The NBA held a rights agreement with SABC, the public-service broadcaster, from 2011 to 2013. In the 1990s, the NBA was also aired on free-to-air television in South Africa when SABC showed the NBA Inside Stuff magazine programme.

Amadou Gallo Fall, NBA Africa managing director and Basketball Africa League president, said: “As we continue our efforts to expand our footprint and build on the success of three sold-out NBA Africa Games, we have seen growing interest and look forward to reaching more fans in South Africa through live games and additional programming.”

The NBA opened its African headquarters in Johannesburg in 2010. The league held three sold-out games in the city in 2015 and 2017, with Pretoria also hosting a game in 2018.

In March 2018, the NBA launched a Sub-Saharan Africa-specific YouTube channel, offering two live game broadcasts per week for the rest of the 2018-19 season.

NBA broadcast rights across sub-Saharan Africa (in English, French and Portuguese) were held by Kwesé TV from 2016-07 to 2020-21. However, the Econet Media-owned pay-TV broadcaster closed down its service last year. NBA rights in sub-Saharan Africa are now held by pay-TV broadcaster Canal Plus Afrique, which also carries the NBA TV channel, along with the French-language TV5 Monde channel.