nba-indiaThe National Basketball Association (NBA) has launched online and mobile sites specifically targeting India, reports MediaPost. Users accessing NBA.com from the country, they are now redirected to a NBA.com/India, featuring some Indian bloggers, a live game broadcast every Thursday morning (not that you can’t watch it on ESPN-Star Sports India), and select Hindi content. The mobile site is accessible from m.nba.com/india. Joining the ranks of the bloggers are veteran Sports writer Ayaz Memon, who had quit DNA last month as Editor At Large, and Sahil Sharma, formerly with the Hindustan Times.

What A Fan Wants

All in all, it looks like a watered down version of the regular NBA.com, and if I were a basketball fan, I’d rather read the regular site than the India site. As an EPL fan, I prefer reading columns from papers in the UK, rather than from India, from journalists and experts who have intricate background knowledge and understanding of developments related to the game: it’s about the content and the its depth.

Now if a basketball website was about basketball in India, had Indian journalists covering the games here, with videos of the league in the country, and was going to help develop greater interest in the game as it is played within India: that would make for an India site. I’ll take NBA.com over NBA.com/India any day. As as example, I quite like the way Goal.com has a mix of both Indian and International content for its India site.

Monetization Or Evangelism?

So what is the purpose of NBA.com launching an Indian site: monetization or evangelism? A look at Alexa.com (note: we do not endorse Alexa as an accurate source of traffic data, only an indicator of trends) only 0.5 percent of its traffic come from India, and it ranks as the 4605th site in the country. It appears that this is the beginning of a process, and this is more of an act of evangelism: NBA.com will seek to build a base of readers from the country. It’s a part of the leagues plan to expand sites to other countries, with country specific sites for Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Spanish speaking countries.

Some monetization, though appears to already have been achieved with HP and Reebok on board as sponsors, so that helps. Interestingly, Goal.com is ranked even higher at 746, with 4.6 percent of its traffic from India.

They’re targeting premium subscribers as well: according to the NBA, 40 games each week will be available online via their NBA League Pass Broadband, a premium online subscription service, which costs $149.95 for the season, or $29.95 per month.

Hindi Content: Font Issues?

We’re wondering if NBA.com is facing font issues, or doesn’t quite know how to publish content in Hindi: as of now, the only article in Hindi is in the form of an image file, rather than unicode text. This will make it impossible for Hindi search engines to index the content.