On Friday, it was announced that the L.A. D-Fenders would have a selected amount of home games broadcast on the same network as their NBA affiliate, the Los Angeles Lakers. The deal will include unprecedented access to the D-Fenders organization, along with their very own broadcast team. The move is just another example of the growing media interest in the NBA Development League.
Yet another business partnership has been created in the NBA D-League as an effort to help promote the league and it's players. One of the D-League's premier teams, with arguably the strongest relationship to their NBA affiliate, will now have 12 of their home games broadcast on Time Warner Cable SportsNet.
Time Warner Cable SportsNet is the home of the Los Angeles Lakers, but the network also carries coverage of other professional sports teams from Southern California. The Lakers inked a 3 billion dollar agreement with the network that will span over the next 20 years, this previous fall.
Now with their NBA D-League affiliate joining them, the channel will provide virtually around-the-clock coverage of the Lakers organization. As stated in their press release, the network will also provide behind-the-scenes features (on the D-Fenders) that will air on the network's weekly documentary series "Backstage: Lakers."
The partnership will include a brand new broadcast team including NBA veteran and Lakers' great A.C. Green. Green will be joined by Steve Quis to provide color commentary and play-by-play for D-Fenders' home games on Time Warner SportsNet. The two will add a a new dynamic to D-Fenders coverage, something Eric Rothman has already helped establish during his tenure behind the mic for the D's.
I reached out to the D-Fenders play-by-play extraordinaire, for his opinion on the growth of not only the D-Fenders, but also the NBADL as a whole in terms of becoming a more widely viewed product.
I'm not surprised at all with how the league has been able to expand it's media reach. It consistently puts out a quality product and is extremely fan friendly. I think in the very near future you will start to see more and more regional and national television deals with the NBADL, and I think that's fantastic.
The Lakers' relationship with the D-Fenders is one of the closest in all of the NBA D-League. I asked Rothman for his thoughts regarding the unique partnership that the Lakers have established with the D-Fenders.
The connection the D-Fenders have with the Lakers is extremely evident at every D-Fenders home game. The team is run by President/CEO Joey Buss, who obviously all Lakers fans are familiar with, because his family is and has been the driving force behind the championship tradition here for decades. The D-Fenders are also guided by GM Glenn Carraro who also serves as Assistant GM to the Lakers. At any given D-Fenders home game you'll see guys like Mitch Kupchak, or Jim Buss scouting talent. Fans really get a feeling that they are watching an important product, because they see how much of an interest the Lakers front office takes in the team.
Rothman is in his second season calling games for the D-Fenders, and, has provided some of the best live D-League commentary during that span. He will be calling games for NBA TV and selected radio affiliates during the NBA D-League Showcase January 7-10.
Time Warner Cable SportNet's decision to include the D-Fenders as apart of their NBA coverage is a landmark deal for the D-League. This season alone, we have seen a growing amount of interest in bringing live D-League coverage to an even greater audience. With the D-League's partnership to YouTube and the CBS Sports Network, the future of D-League T.V. coverage seems ever expanding.
The ability for fans to connect on an even greater level, by providing them with the opportunity to easily follow their favorite NBA team's D-League affiliate, will not only build a stronger, and more loyal fan base for the D-League, but it will also benefit the NBA. With the increase of D-League assignments, fans will be able to keep closer tabs of draft picks, and players assigned for rehab stints. These are a few of the added reasons in which the NBA D-League is quickly becoming the most unique minor league system of any major sports league.
The NBA's connection with the D-League has never been stronger, and television deals similar to what the L.A. D-Fenders and Time Warner Cable Sportsnet have agreed upon, will only help the league continue to grow.