Sky and ESPN in talks to end NBA’s UK blackout

UK pay-television broadcasters BSkyB and ESPN are in talks with the NBA about acquiring rights for the North American basketball league, according to the Daily Mail newspaper.

ESPN, which held the UK rights until its deal expired before the start of the 2012-13 season, said that talks were ongoing, while NBA commissioner David Stern confirmed negotiations with Sky.

ESPN said: “We are engaged in discussions with the NBA. We hope to be able to continue our coverage in the UK and remain committed to helping the game of basketball grow here as we are in dozens of countries around the world.”

Stern said that the league was in discussions with Sky “about more regular scheduling of our games.”

He said: “The Olympics was a perfect way to showcase basketball in London… It gave fans the chance to see great basketball… By all accounts, London was a great success for the NBA. However, we really need to do a better job of offering games to the UK. While our online had over a billion streams outside the US last season, it is not an acceptable answer to the fans in the UK.”

Stern added: “For those fans who are currently starved I would recommend that, for now, they sign up for our online League Pass where they can get 1,000 NBA games through their smart TV, their computers, tablets and their cell phones. We need exposure to build a stronger fan base there, so at the moment we are struggling. But we are currently talking to people at the highest level from BSkyB to see what we can do to change that.”

The NBA’s online League Pass service is currently the only way for UK fans to watch NBA games live or on-demand.