David Stern Says NBA May Alter Start of Games for International Audiences

With the NBA on a never-ending mission to expand internationally, commissioner David Stern says the League is gonna have to think of altering the start of some games to accommodate the growing audiences overseas. Per SI: “This year, the NBA is playing preseason games in Beijing and Shanghai, while the international regular season games are set for Mexico City and London. Although deputy commissioner Adam Silver said that travel time issues made it difficult to schedule regular season games in China, Stern floated a possible compromise: if the games can’t be brought to China, they could at least be played at a more China-friendly hour. ‘Interestingly, there’s an intermediate step that Yao (Ming) raised earlier with me, and that is the question of whether the NBA would consider modifying some of the start times of its games so that they would be more accessible to international audiences at a more convenient time for them to watch,’ Stern said. ‘And I think that the NBA is going to have to wrestle over the next decade as more and more of our viewing audience is outside the United States, is what’s the best time for games to be played so that those fans can enjoy them live as opposed to having to get up in China and watch an NBA game at 7 in the morning. And I think that’s a fun problem that we’re going to be addressing because so much viewing is happening outside the United States now.’ As it stands, a game that tips off at 7 p.m. in New York City begins at 7 a.m. in Beijing. Even west coast games that tip at 10 p.m. ET start at 10 a.m. in China, which isn’t exactly prime time for vegging out on the couch with a cold one to take in some hoops. The league’s holiday slates aren’t that much more convenient. The start times for this year’s quintuple-header on Christmas will run from 12 p.m. ET to 10:30 p.m. ET. That’s midnight to 10:30 a.m. in Beijing. There’s no realistic way for Chinese fans — especially younger ones — to catch more than a few of those games, and it’s understandable why Stern and Silver might see this as a tremendous lost opportunity.”