Saskatoon

Saskatoon's new pro basketball team welcomes live streaming of league games

The new Canadian Elite Basketball League has signed an agreement with CBC that will see the public broadcaster livestream all league games this season on a variety of platforms. The Saskatchewan Rattlers believe it will spur attendance rather than keep fans away.

Saskatchewan Rattlers say it's better to have 'more Canadian eyes' watching CEBL games

CBC Sports is live streaming the remaining 39 games of the Canadian Elite Basketball League’s inaugural season along with championship weekend Aug. 22 to 25 in Saskatoon. (CBC Sports)

The marketing manager of the Canadian Elite Basketball League's Saskatchewan Rattlers is not worried about people watching the team's remaining home games on their devices for free instead of viewing them in person at SaskTel Centre.

It will be possible now that the CEBL has signed an agreement with CBC that will see the public broadcaster livestream the rest of the league's games this season, but Raul Garcia said the Rattlers are happy that more people will be able to see their games.

"It's a really fantastic way to get more eyes on our product," he said. "So the more Canadian eyes we can get on it, the better."

The games will be available within Canada at cbcsports.ca, CBC Gem and through the CBC Sports app on iOS and Android devices.

In a release, the CEBL said it places "a heavy emphasis on an array of entertainment before, during, and after games."

Garcia said the fact the new league advertises itself as a new basketball experience should mean the livestreaming translates into more fans at games, not less.

"To really get that experience you have to be in the stadium," he said. 

"If anything, it's going to contribute because people will be able to see what a great time everyone's having in the stadium and want to be part of that atmosphere."

Fans of the Saskatchewan Rattlers have seen the province's new pro basketball team jump out to a 5-and-3 start in the inaugural Canadian Elite Basketball League season. (Saskatchewan Rattlers/Twitter)

Garcia noted that that the team has seen comments on social media from people who have been caught up in the playoff run of the NBA's Toronto Raptors and saying they were going to pick up tickets for the next Rattlers game.

"I think it's a new age of basketball in Canada," he said. "I think we're entering into the golden age of Canadian basketball."

"So obviously the Raptors' success is paying off in dividends for us because people just want to keep seeing good basketball. And to be able to see a pro team in your own backyard is huge."

There was a Rattlers' home game sandwiched between Games 3 and 4 of the NBA finals. The Rattlers drew 2,087 fans for Thursday's night's 69-62 win over the Edmonton Stingers, down from the 3,399 that came for the Rattlers' home opener.

Even though there wasn't a Raptors' game Thursday night, the Rattlers were going head-to-head with Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final that evening.

Garcia said he believes attendance will pick up after the NBA playoffs are finished.

"People would just want to keep watching basketball. So once playoffs are done they're going to look for another outlet that they can do that in," he said.

The Rattlers next home game is June 27 when they host the Fraser Valley Bandits.

About the Author

Kelly Provost is a newsreader and reporter with CBC News in Saskatoon. Email him at kelly.provost@cbc.ca.

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