The NBL makes it hard to be a fan
I can't remember a year in the last decade when I've felt less engaged with the NBL. I have barely watched games this year. I've made it to one NBL game (first 36ers home game), let my NBL.TV lapse and hardly remembered to watch stats on my phone. I have watched portions of a few games on TV, but doubt I've seen a full game.
And this is despite having family and friends directly involved in the league, and despite running a site and Twitter account dedicated to the sport. To be fair, I have a second child now, I'm 100 emails behind with my business and have huge to-do lists at work and home, so it's possible I just have less spare time. And my two teams have had their struggles. But despite that, I have seen loads of NBA highlights and followed all the NBA news this season almost entirely because it is just that much easier to do.
So, what explains the lack of engagement? And how many of the points below are things that the league/clubs could improve off their own back or have done to avoid me making certain decisions? (I'd say everything except live TV broadasts.)
1. During/after a game, there's no easy way to view videos or GIFs of key plays; the league doesn't make them (besides Perth) or make it easy for fans to make them. In contrast, I can go to r/NBA and find a GIF of almost any key play from that day in the NBA and it's easy to tweet and share it, so I do. I share more NBA info than NBL info almost entirely because it's possible to do so.
2. There's no plays of the week video, or weekly-wrap video, so I see even less of the plays around the league. Hate on Carfino if you want, but I used to like the plays of the week videos!
3. Getting to the live stats links from the NBL site is often a huge pain in the arse on mobile, assuming that game ticker even loads properly. Often the ticker starts on Round 1 and stays there for ages.
4. The NBL doesn't have a mobile site and their non-mobile site is especially painful to load and browse on a phone. I'm less likely to use it to check scores if it's a difficult or slow experience.
5. When the games have been on TV, they've often been delayed; if I've seen the result already, I am far less interested in watching. I also find some of the commentary a bit painful.
6. The NBL.TV domain lapsed at one point during the off-season. That gave me little confidence that the service was going to continue, so I cancelled before they charged my credit card rather than wait and see what the mess was about.
7. There are highlight videos for each game on the NBL site, but the league never tweets them; it only just occurred to me to watch one today for the first time this season, and we're past half way. And that was of my brother's game which included a buzzer-beater to force overtime. There should be GIFs and YouTube videos of game highlights, plus one just of Rhys Martin's shot for overtime, etc. The video on the NBL site is really slow to load.
8. Boxscores/livestats haven't been showing the visiting team correctly on my phone (iPhone 6+). Reported this to the NBL.
9. NBL app is a waste of time, but I'm mentioning it because of the NBA's app. Now, apps are expensive to make, but even a very simple mobile site linking to boxscores would be helpful. I've started using the NBA Game Time app and, while it's flawed, it's useful. I check it at least daily. If there was a good NBL mobile site, they could skip an app for now but still potentially get a home screen shortcut on fans' phones.
10. I was unimpressed with the 36ers' woeful off-season marketing, so I didn't renew my season ticket. I'm also very busy and knew I was going to have to miss enough games that a season ticket was not good value. (And it's worth noting that since the season started, the 36ers have at least improved social media and offered some good game ticket deals.) But that off-season was so half-arsed I voted with my wallet. And then we still joke in the office about how their purchase option for a five-game pack involves printing and faxing something.
Some of these things aren't new but for years, many of us have made the effort to persist regardless waiting for things to improve. Had season tickets, had NBL.TV, watched TV games, watched stats for most games, watched plays of the week, etc. But I'm tired of it being just that little bit harder to follow the league, to share highlights or info, and of seeing minimal effort from the league.
It shouldn't be so difficult to be a fan of the league.