New Zealand's National Basketball League has concocted an innovative venture to take advantage of sport-starved fans worldwide, while also hauling in much-needed revenue.
The revamped league is introducing a pay-per-view service for overseas hoops heads desperate for a basketball fix, with the competition set to become one of the first to tip-off amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beginning June 23, seven teams will play a total of 56 games over a six-week period, with an additional extended finals series, at an Auckland venue with no crowd present.
"We wanted to explore what our opportunities were outside of New Zealand, and a pay-per-view option opened up for us and we're going global," general manager Justin Nelson tells Newshub.
"It's great for NZ basketball that this year's NBL will be seen right around the world."
The games will be screened by Sky Sport locally, while international fans can purchase an early-bird package covering all 56 games for $14.99 at www.leaguepass.co.nz. The platform will be geo-blocked in New Zealand.
More than 250 players have already registered for the NBL's inaugural draft, including returning Tall Black Jack Salt and former NZ Breaker Tai Wynyard.
"Given the unprecedented times we're living in right now, the fact is basketball is a global sport and for our Kiwi players, I think that there's going to be wide interest right across the world tuning in to watch our players in action," Nelson adds.
"I think Kiwi basketball is ranked really highly right across the world. A lot of people love the work ethic and the talent we have here.
"The interest has always been high right around the world, now we're able to take the vision of the games globally to the world as well.
"There are 7.5 billion people living worldwide, I'd love it if just a few of them tune in."
Nelson adds the money from the subscriptions will be split between the league, teams and players. He believes the added exposure has the potential to open offshore doors for players.
"The opportunity for our players to be seen by coaches or teams or GMs worldwide is sky high right now, and that's exciting for their future careers."
But the concept hasn't been for everyone. Southland Sharks, Hawke's Bay Hawks and defending champions Wellington Saints have already withdrawn from this year's competition, citing concerns over pay and player welfare.
All five Breakers contracted players - Tom Abercrombie, Corey Webster, Rob Loe, Finn Delany, and Jarrad Weeks - have also confirmed they won't take part.