Fox Sports Gets Rights to Jr. NBA Kids’ Tournament

The National Basketball Association has made a multi-year deal with Fox Sports will put its new Jr. NBA World Championship on Fox and FS1.

The global tournament—in some ways similar to baseball’s Little League World Series-- will feature 13- and 14-year-old boys and girls from around the world and will be held in at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., August 7-12.

The league expects this to be the first of an annual event. Both the league and the network are looking for sponsors. No sponsors have yet been announced for the tournament.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

The NBA is hot this season, with national ratings up on both ESPN/ABC and Turner. During its current playoffs, the NBA has already begun promoting the Jr. NBA World Championships. Viewership on NBA games already skew young. That appeal could be reinforced by reaching out to, and putting on display, the future LeBrons and Giannis'.

Fox airs NBA games on its regional sports networks. The NBA liked Fox’s willingness to put 10 hours of Jr. NBA programming on its broadcast network, including the boys and girls U.S. bracket finals, the international bracket finals and the world championships.  

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“We are thrilled to partner with Fox to provide national coverage of the first-ever Jr. NBA World Championship,” said Kathy Behrens, NBA president, social responsibility and player programs. “Fox shares our commitment to showcasing the event’s exciting on-court competition as well as the impactful off-court programming which will showcase our core values that will help set a new standard for youth basketball competitions.”

Pool competition and elimination games will be carried on FS1. All games will be simulcast on Fox Sports’ apps. Fox Sports will also be airing shoulder programming in which the kids take part in activities including NBA Cares community service projects, sometimes alongside NBA and WNBA players such as Dwyane Wade and Candace Parker. The kids will also go to Walt Disney World.

“We jumped at the opportunity to partner with the NBA on this unique event,” said Mark Silverman, president, national networks at Fox Sports. “The NBA’s stars of tomorrow--the next Dwyane Wade or Candace Parker--might get their first big turns in the spotlight with us, right here at Fox Sports.”

Both ESPN and Turner could have used the tournament as programming for their new over-the-top services.

The Jr. NBA World Championship features both boys and girls divisions. The teams come from new regional tournaments in the U.S. and teams representing international regions (Africa & Middle East, Asia Pacific, Canada, China, Europe, India, Mexico and South America).

Each division has eight teams in a U.S. bracket and eight teams in an international bracket. There will be round-robin competition followed by single-elimination games.

The event will comply with NBA and USA Basketball Youth Guidelines, which include recommended and maximum participation amounts that will limit youth participating in the Jr. NBA World Championship to one or, at maximum, two games per day over the course of the tournament. 

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.