The National Basketball Association has agreed to a new digital deal in sub-Saharan Africa, an accord with closely held Econet Wireless Global Ltd. that will see games broadcast in three different languages across the region.
The NBA’s largest African partnership comes eight months after the North American sports organization held an exhibition game in Johannesburg, South Africa, its first match on the continent. The NBA has also had an office in the South African city since 2010.
The NBA has long been trying to market itself internationally. It established an office in China in 1992 and played its first game in the world’s most populous country in 2005. In the past 10 years it’s dedicated significant resources to growing its footprint in India, including sponsored tournaments and an office in Mumbai.
Under the agreement, Econet, founded and run by Strive Masiyiwa, will offer NBA games and other league content across television, Internet and mobile networks, beginning next season. Econet’s total offering will include more than 500 events per year, include English, French and Portuguese content and be confined to sub-Saharan Africa, a region with more than 900 million people.
The NBA has been broadcast in sub-Saharan Africa since the 2013-14 season by Supersport, part of Naspers Ltd., Africa’s biggest company. That agreement expires after this season, which has started the concluding playoffs phase.