The Big3 basketball league will have a new television home for the upcoming season while also remaining in the mix to acquire a network of its own.
The 3-on-3 league of former NBA players — co-founded by Ice Cube and Jeff Kwatinetz — will have its games televised on CBS and CBS Sports Network when the season begins on June 22. CBS and CBS Sports Network will combine to show more than 45 hours of live coverage, with more than 20 hours on network television.
Kwatinetz said in a phone interview with The Associated Press that the league's interest in buying Fox's regional sports networks played a role in a television deal not being completed until two months before the start of the season.
"We are spending a lot of hours and time on getting the RSNs," he said. "There was a time we thought the RSNs could be a good location for the games, but the way the timing with the Disney/Fox deals being delayed was a factor."
The Big3 remains one of the contenders for the 22 Fox RSN's, which are being sold by Disney as one of the conditions of its merger with Fox. Major League Baseball and Liberty Media are the other known bidders.
The Big3 sees the RSNs as the base for building a national network that appeals to young audiences.
"There are not a lot of networks that embrace diversity, inclusion and appeal to youth. That is a gigantic gaping hole that the RSNs would serve to build a network like that," Kwatinetz said. "Media companies have become so big and powerful that so much of getting viewpoints or access to public airwaves have become about leverage, power and money. That's why there's not enough diversity on television."
The league's games were carried by Fox and Fox Sports 1 the past two seasons. The deal with CBS includes more coverage on a broadcast network along with possible ancillary programming showcasing the league. The Big3 draft on May 1 will be televised on CBS Sports Network.
"We're a young league and still have a lot to learn," Kwatinetz said. "Being able to learn from (CBS Sports president) Sean McManus and the rest of his team is a huge advantage along with being on a big network."
The league is expanding to 12 teams and will be split into two divisions, with three games each on Saturday and Sunday. There will also be some weekends when games are played at two different sites in order to bring the league to more cities.
Kwatinetz said that with the television deal completed, the league should be announcing its schedule in the next couple of weeks.
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