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NBA full-court press yields Blighty deals

Brits take it to the hoop

NEW YORK — “Dunk It Like Shaq” may not be quite ready to replace “Bend It Like Beckham” among British sports fans, but the National Basketball Assn. has engineered deals with three major program distributors in the U.K.

One is a first-ever deal between the NBA and broadcaster Channel Five calling for the net to air one game every week throughout the regular season and playoffs.

Deal also calls for Channel Five to carry a weekly magazine/highlight series called “NBA Action” and an end-of-season special on the NBA Finals summarizing what happened in each championship game.

But the most significant deal is a renewal of the contract with BSkyB, which has engineered the longest-running and most extensive U.K. relationship with the NBA over the past four years. Renewal covers the NBA’s biggest events of the year, the Finals and the All-Star Game. Pact gives BSkyB two games per week throughout the regular season and playoffs (on Friday and Sunday), the weekly series “NBA Action” and daily highlights.

Third transaction is a renewal with feevee channel NASN (North American Sports Network), which will carry three games per week, plus three episodes each week of “NBA Fastbreak Daily,” a joint production of the NBA and ESPN. NESN will also cover the annual NBA player draft in June and transmit 20 games from the league’s archives under the title “NBA Hardwood Classics.”

Scott Levy, senior VP of international TV and marketing partnerships for the NBA, said the deal with Channel Five “will allow us to reach out to a wider, over-the-air audience. These people may like what they see and seek out the other games on BSkyB, particularly the Finals, which will be distributed over satellite and cable” to U.K. viewers.

The NBA has also sold a six-hour block of programming on its digital net NBA TV to Hong Kong for the first time. The Hong Kong pay service called Cable TV will carry NBA TV, including a mix of live games, daily highlights and classic games.

In addition, NBA games will show up on over-the-air TV in Malaysia for the first time on 8TV, the country’s newest station. A total of 41 games are scheduled, including the All-Star game, playoffs and Finals.

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