As Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving amaze fans across the country (to the tune of record TV and streaming viewership), it’s easy for those of us in the U.S. to overlook just how global an event these Finals (and the NBA and basketball, in general) are.
Alongside soccer, basketball is one of the few truly global sports – and the NBA is the apex of the sport. From Beijing to Buenos Aires, Mexico City to Melbourne, hundreds of millions of fans are following these NBA Finals — and ESPN is a key part of their experience across all seven continents (yes, even Antarctica).
On our own TV networks and streaming services outside the U.S., ESPN brings the Finals to 59 countries in Latin America, Oceania and the Caribbean. Through long-term multimedia collaborations, that coverage is touching fans in another 52 countries, including the UK and Ireland (with BT Sport), India (on SONY ESPN), Canada (on TSN), China (in collaboration with Tencent) and fans across sub-Saharan Africa (with Kwese Sport). Plus, here in the U.S. ESPN Deportes has exclusive Spanish-language TV, streaming and radio coverage for the growing U.S. Hispanic audience.
— Alfredo Lomelí (@Alfredo_Lomeli) June 5, 2017
ESPN personnel – both on-air and off – from around the world join U.S. colleagues in Oakland and Cleveland, collaborating to deliver global coverage of the NBA in a way nobody else does (or can). Teams from Argentina, Brazil and Mexico deliver complete, localized coverage to their markets, while ESPN International production teams produce interviews, features and analysis to integrate with live coverage in China, Australia, Africa and more. Multiple editions of SportsCenter (in multiple languages) bring highlights, interviews and analysis to fans on either side of the games.
— ESPN Australia & NZ (@ESPNAusNZ) June 5, 2017
In China, passion for basketball is astonishing – with a staggering 300 million people playing basketball regularly. As we did throughout the NBA season, Tencent and ESPN are combining to bring streaming coverage of the Finals to hundreds of millions of Chinese NBA fans. In fact, Game 1 shattered Tencent’s record for most-streamed NBA event in China — with more than 33 million streaming video starts!*
In Brazil — where ESPN has covered the NBA for 25 years and has exclusive TV and streaming coverage of the NBA Finals — the NBA Playoffs have already seen 64 percent increase in viewership this year, before the Finals started. And that was after a regular season that saw a 49 percent increase in viewers.
Throughout Latin America, the Finals will cap the 18th season that commentator team of Alvaro Martin and Coach Carlos Morales are bringing the NBA to fans.
Digitally, ESPN’s coverage spans the globe. With 11 local editions of ESPN.com and the ESPN app, in four languages, we bring the best news, video, features and analysis to homescreens and browsers everywhere. Global editorial teams enrich our coverage with unique angles. Some — like Australian hoops legend Luc Longley’s rediscovery of a love for the game — are particularly locally resonant. Others — like a data-driven examination of the three phases of LeBron James’ career — are equally relevant to NBA fans in Lagos, London or Los Angeles.
— Kwesé ESPN (@kwesesports) June 5, 2017
This kind of coverage does not simply happen. It is hard work. And it is the result of both ESPN’s unmatched news and storytelling resources and the immense technological capability our company has envisioned and developed. Making all of this possible are facilities from Bristol to Sao Paolo, world-class software, data management, fibre networking and digital platforms that power our products and content at global scale, enabling our presence on phones, televisions and computers.
The NBA Finals — and ESPN’s coverage of them — are a distinctively global stage for athletes like Curry and LeBron, and a powerful shared cultural connection between fans all across the world.
*The previous record was Kobe Bryant’s final game.