By Spencer Feingold
The NBA has long been popular overseas in places like China and Europe, but the league is now setting its sights on expanding its fan base in Africa.
On Wednesday, the NBA announced a partnership with YouTube to create a channel solely dedicated to fans in sub-Saharan Africa.
“First and foremost it is about reaching out to fans in Africa and creating the most broad exposure possible,” Matt Brabants, the NBA’s senior vice president, told Cheddar.
The channel will stream live games and daily highlights for fans. It will also offer special coverage of native African players, including the Timberwolves’ Josh Okogie, originally from Nigeria, and the 76ers’ Joel Embiid, originally from Cameroon.
The NBA Africa YouTube channel will “celebrate the impact of African players in the NBA as well as the league’s long history of growing basketball at all levels across the continent and using the game as a platform to inspire and empower African youth,” the league wrote.
Brabants said that YouTube was the ideal partner to reach the next generation of African fans who largely stream their entertainment content online. It is also ideal in light of Africa's infrastructure shortcomings.
“With some of the technological challenges and bandwidth challenges on the continent, we think that is an important place to be,” he said of YouTube.
Unlike China, which has a robust and knowledgeable fan base, Brabant said fans in Africa are still learning about the game and the league.
We “want to make sure we are teaching fans the sport at the basic level so they can understand what it is all about,” Brabant said.
The first few videos posted to the channel featured Embiid meeting with South African hip hop artist Cassper Nyovest in Johannesburg and an interview with the Hornet’s Bismack Biyombo on opening a school in his native Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Just last month, the NBA also announced it was launching a new Basketball Africa League in collaboration with the International Basketball Federation, the sport’s global governing body. The league will unite existing clubs from all across the continent.
Former President Obama ー a well-known basketball fan and player ー is directly involved in planning the league.
For full interview click here.