Saturday, February 07, 2009

ESPN Taiwan agrees to broadcast SBL games

In a bizarre twist of fate, ESPN Taiwan reached a verbal agreement with the SBL Committee Friday night to broadcast SBL games. The agreement came three weeks after Videoland abruptly terminated its cooperation with the league and left the league without a broadcast partner for the first time.

Videoland and Elta Technology signed a broadcast deal with the SBL on the eve of this season to carry SBL games on television and online. VL stopped its broadcast operation on Jan. 16, one week after the season opener, saying that the SBL had not actually signed any concrete deal or memo with the TV station.

Since then, no SBL games appeared on television. Elta Technology was not able to provide online broadcast as well. Fortunately, the season soon hit a two-week lunar New Year vacation and not many games were "blanked" during the span.

Details of the agreement were not disclosed. Central News Agency and the Liberty Times reported that ESPN Taiwan, which lost the bidding war to VL prior to the season, reached a tentative three-year verbal agreement with the SBL for approximately NT$60 million.

Media also reported that ESPN Taiwan offered an incentive plan which will award the league with a bonus if the rating surpasses 0.35.

The interesting thing was that both sides still did not sign anything concrete. Another verbal agreement after Videoland pulled out? It's unfathomable to me. However, it probably shows that broadcast partners don't trust the SBL Committee, which has a bad track record in terms of TV rights and marketing fee negotiations.