Will basketball stay niche forever? Or do the successes of their own country in the European Championships with brilliant games, such as in the quarter-finals against Greece, guarantee a real boost for the sport in Germany? In BR24’s sports talk “One against”, BR reporter Lukas Schönmüller remains skeptical, while colleague Jan Wiecken spreads optimism.
“I think so,” Wiecken said when asked if he thought a sustainable basketball boom was possible in Germany, referring to the current ratings the private broadcaster has achieved by airing a Greek game on free TV. “With 14-49 year olds (the most relevant age group for advertisers, ed.) they got young viewers. It’s interesting and gives hope for the future.”
Target groups relevant to advertising
In fact, last Tuesday more people in this age group watched basketball than Champions League soccer, which of course was broadcast live on pay TV. For some time now, there has been a trend of younger viewers turning their backs on football and taking an interest in other sports, including basketball.
In the discussion, Schönmüller answered that in recent years and decades there has been a lot of hype, which then faded away, whether it was in basketball, handball, hockey after reaching the 2018 Olympic final, or more recently in women’s soccer. And he asks, “But does anyone still watch hockey? No. The league was almost broke and now it’s called a supermarket.”
Counter example from hockey: “The league is now called like a supermarket”
His pessimistic prediction: “In 90 hours nobody will be talking about basketball anymore. It will be over on Sunday night. Basketball will always be a marginal sport in Germany.” BR’s basketball editor Wiecken has more hope: “The basketball Bundesliga does not take the sport out of its niche. It stands and falls on international success. If they stay and we continue to win medals with this team, I can imagine that an even bigger hype will be created and that it is also durable.”
After winning the European Championship in 1993 or later the World Cup bronze in 2002 and European Championship silver in 2005 with a certain Dirk Nowitzki, the lasting boom did not materialize. In terms of viewer interest, “King Football” was second to none, the best Formula 1 could keep up with during Michael Schumacher’s successful era.
More and more Germans in the NBA increase the chances of a boom season
“In 1993, the problem was that the DBB was completely surprised, the Bundesliga was stuck in stuffy school gymnasiums,” Wiecken said afterwards. This is different today. Unlike in the early 2000s, the best basketball league in the world, the NBA, has not just one Nowitzki, but several players who are now playing in the big European tournament – alongside Dennis Schröder, Daniel Theis and Franz Wagner.
More and more players are getting there. Thus, there can be a “backfire”, as Schönmüller calls it, a permanent effect. If the injured or otherwise disabled Maximilian Kleber, Moritz Wagner or Isaac Hartenstein joined national coach Gordon Herbert’s team, basketball would have a better chance than it did 20 years ago.
BBL hopes for full halls
The clubs of the Basketball Bundesliga (BBL), which will start its new season at the end of September, are hoping for increased interest and full halls. And internationally, the next chance to attract attention again is in 2023: the World Cup in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia.