NBA Commissioner David Stern contemplates the lost season

With the 2011-2012 NBA season in serious jeopardy, nearly everyone who makes a dollar from professional basketball is desperately trying to figure out how to make up that lost revenue. NBA stars are signing short term contracts with professional leagues in China and Italy. Sports bars and restaurants are emphasizing hockey and college basketball.

But what’s the impact going to be for affiliates who earn their living sports bettors? The good news is, sports betting probably won’t take too big a hit from the NBA lockout. After all, that gaming money that would have been spent on basketball is going to wind up somewhere, and it probably won’t be in college savings bonds.

Besides, this time of year sports fans are too distracted by other marquee events to even notice that basketball is gone.

Extended Football Season

Back in Vince Lombardi’s day, college football’s season ended with a flurry of New Year’s Day bowl games, while the pros wrapped it up in the second week of January. But for a variety of reasons, most involving money, both seasons have been extended past traditional boundaries.

This year’s BCS Championship takes place on January 3rd and Super Bowl XLVI is being held on February 5. That means most bettors will be pretty distracted until well after the holidays. But this period give affiliates plenty of time to promote other winter sports like college basketball and hockey.

Biggest Final Four Action Ever?

After the Super Bowl, the sports betting world’s biggest moment comes in the form of March Madness, the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament. Starting on March 15, 68 teams will face off in bracketed play for college basketball supremacy in a frenzy of games that culminates with the final game on April 2 in New Orleans.

But remember, it’s called, March Madness, not, A Couple Weeks in March Madness. Hardcore college hoops fans will be rooting for their teams in conference tournaments for several weeks ahead of the big dance. These are fans who very likely to be sports bettors, too.

Every year mainstream interest in the Tournament grows and even casual fans get heavily involved in office pools. In Las Vegas, March Madness has been approaching Super Bowl levels of excitement, and revenue. In the absence of the NBA, this year’s tournament is likely to be the biggest ever.

Affiliates who gear content towards this seasonal fan base stand a good chance of seriously increasing their revenue streams. This time should also be used to get fans ready for the next round of professional sports action.

After the Madness

Sports betting is a very cyclical beast and interest in the NBA traditionally picks up after the NCAA Basketball Tournament ends in early April and carries on through the playoffs until the championships. Fortunately, the first week of April is when Major League Baseball’s regular season begins and the NHL moves into playoff mode. Between baseball and the Stanley Cup, afilliates should hardly notice the absence of basketball at all.

Getting Ready for Life Without the NBA

The good news about the NBA lockout is that it’s a story that’s playing out in slow motion. This gives web site operators plenty of time to evaluate their audience demographics and really strart promoting alternatives to them on a daily basis. This strategy could include:

  • Cross promoting college basketball content well ahead of March Madness.
  • Running articles explaining the basics of hockey betting to basketball fans.
  • Constantly letting those bettors know that there are plenty of exciting options to the NBA.
  • Keep the excitement of the NCAA Tournament alive by staging promotions and contests that keep NBA refugees coming back to your site day in and day out.

The NBA lockout is probably going to cause some short term pain, but affiliates that approach the problem with a strategic plan may come out ahead in the deal. And that’s a lot better than the players and owners are going to make out.

How are you dealing with the NBA lockout on your site? Let us know in the General Discussion Forum.

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