Euroleague revenues rise hailed as Final Four finally gets to Vitoria-Gasteiz
By Simon Ward in Vitoria-Gasteiz
Euroleague Basketball is looking to build on the progress of its elite European clubs competition off the back of a season in which it has attracted over 2.1 million spectators and is staging the EuroLeague Final Four in Spain for the first time in five years.
Moreover, it claims that revenues have grown by a multiple of 2.4 over the last three seasons, coinciding with the start of 10-year joint venture with IMG, the international sports agency, which, in the case of the EuroLeague, has entailed a switch to a round-robin regular season in which each team plays 30 games.
Further growth is expected as the competition expands from 16 to 18 teams in 2019-20, with guaranteed places for Germany’s Bayern Munich and France’s LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne, which have been granted licences for the next two seasons, ensuring a greater presence in two target markets.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 2019 Final Four in Vitoria-Gasteiz on Thursday, Jordi Bertomeu, the president, chairman and chief executive of Euroleague Basketball, said: “Over 2.1 million fans have come to our arenas to enjoy our games this season. Our broadcasting partners have delivered the games to almost 200 countries and territories in every continent with millions watching globally.
“Our digital platforms have delivered record-breaking figures in every single metric. But we are not satisfied… It is our duty to keep on finding ways to deliver more and better to our fans, staying curious, humble and ambitious to innovate. It is also our duty, together with our partner IMG, to continue growing the business for our clubs and our partners.
“European basketball has never been in a better position with the Euroleague Basketball revenues growing 2.4 times in the last three seasons. It means we have become a safe, trustful and powerful platform for broadcasting and commercial partners to reach a truly passionate and engaged community.”
At present, 11 of the 16 EuroLeague teams have 10-year licences guaranteeing their places in the competition, and the addition of a second German club (the top Basketball Bundesliga team qualifies as right) helped bring about a renewal of the broadcasting rights deal with Deutsche Telekom, the German telecoms group and pay-television operator, for the next two years.
Meanwhile, new broadcasters for 2019-20 will include DAZN, the over-the-top service, which signed an exclusive four-year deal in Spain ahead of its launch in the country this February.
Bertomeu said: “If we look at the future, we are happy to be welcoming two new teams in the league, ASVEL Villeurbanne and Bayern Munich. Two teams that will expand the reach of the competition to new territories and audiences, and I am sure will deliver exciting moments and stories on the court next season.”
It is the first time that the EuroLeague Final Four has been held in Spain since Madrid stage the 2015 edition, and, with a population of only 250,000, Vitoria-Gasteiz, the capital of the Basque Country, may appear to be a curious choice to host the climax of a prominent European clubs competition.
However, the city is a basketball stronghold and home to Saski Baskonia, one of Spain’s three guaranteed representatives in the EuroLeague, and a capacity crowd of over 15,000 will pack into the Fernando Buesa Arena for an event featuring holders Real Madrid of Spain, Russia’s CSKA Moscow and Turkish teams Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul and Anadolu Efes Istanbul.
This weekend ends a long wait for Vitoria-Gasteiz to stage a European club finals after it was stripped of the hosting rights to the 2001 FIBA EuroLeague Final Four after joining the split from the international federation that resulted in the creation of Euroleague Basketball.
Bertomeu said yesterday: “I am sure very few people know that 19 years ago, Vitoria-Gasteiz was awarded to organise this event, but many things happened during that summer of 2000 and a long wait started since then. But Baskonia and the local authorities kept on making sure that everything was in place to bring the Final Four to their home and after 19 years they made it happen and now Vitoria-Gasteiz is the European basketball capital.
“So we want to express to the city of Vitoria-Gasteiz, the region of Alava and the Basque Country, to Baskonia, to all of you thank you for hosting us in your home with such great hospitality. “
The Final Four is being complemented by activities at the city's dedicated FanZone, including a EuroLeague Academy Tournament, plus the Euroleague Basketball Adidas Next Generation Tournament Finals and events to support One Team, the organisation’s social responsibility programme.