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NBA Finals: Broadcasting Oklahoma City across the globe

THUNDER-HEAT -- The NBA's popularity reaches far beyond the United States. Here's an inside look at how NBA Entertainment is taking Kevin Durant and LeBron James live to 215 countries and territories in 47 languages.
BY GINA MIZELL gmizell@opubco.com Modified: June 13, 2012 at 9:59 pm •  Published: June 13, 2012

/articleid/3684172/1/pictures/1747650">Photo - The control room for of the NBA World Feed truck is pictured during Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, June 12, 2012. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
The control room for of the NBA World Feed truck is pictured during Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, June 12, 2012. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

Kane said CCTV, China's television partner with the NBA, expects this to be the most-watched NBA Finals in the country's history because of the popularity of the matchup between the Thunder's young, exciting team and the global icon that is LeBron James.

“The viewers are brilliant,” Kane said. “They know what they're watching. They demand the broadcasters (to be) the best. They've learned the game. They've embraced the game. They love the game. And they really want to feel like they're sitting courtside.”

Eddy, who grew up in Orlando, Fla., but had never visited Oklahoma City until this week, said his viewers grasp the rowdy environment inside Chesapeake Energy Arena and the small-town vibe Oklahoma City provides in contrast to Miami's big market.

How it went global

Eddy, who broadcasts for Canal+France, has seen firsthand the way international fans have learned about basketball.

He served as a translator and guide for David Stern when he first became commissioner in the late 1980s and was first trying to expand the game overseas. Eddy points to the 1992 Dream Team, Michael Jordan's dominance in the 1990s, and more international players coming to the NBA as the main driving forces behind the game's increased popularity outside of the U.S.

“We had to sort of help them discover all this,” Eddy said. “And now, I think in France, there's probably as many NBA experts as there would be in America. It's not as popular as soccer … but the fans of the NBA in France are very intense about it.”

As expected, Eddy's viewers are naturally drawn to the Spurs' Tony Parker, who is a native of France. But many are also fans of Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha because they speak French.

After preparing for his broadcast in the press box, Eddy heads down to the court for his pregame intro. Once there, he enters a line of international broadcasters who quickly hit the same mark under the basket, talk for a few minutes in their native languages and file out to make room for the next commentators.

Eddy's pregame guest is Bruce Bowen, the former NBA player who is now an ESPN analyst. Minutes after, viewers around the world will officially be brought inside Chesapeake Energy Arena.

“It's grown with the communications and Internet boom,” Eddy said. “The evolution is incredible.”


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