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Publisher: Hampton Press
Price: £21

In the United States, the NBA needs television as much as the league needs the small screen. The two
are partners in crime, co-dependent, mutually supportive and linked in chase for popularity and the bottom line dollar. 

Fortunato, an assistant professor at St. Peter's College in New Jersey, examines the relationship and the broadcast strategies employed by the NBA and its television partners, past and present, providing a detailed insight into why broadcasters are prepared to splash out the budget of a small country to have Shaq and MJ strut their stuff on their channel.

Much of the shows watched in America are produced however not by NBC or TNT. They are made by the NBA itself who are able to control the message that is sent out to fans. 

It makes for largely banal broadcasting but the message is clear - if you want our game, you stick to our rules. Be nice, or we go elsewhere. 

It isn't something which is unique to basketball - just that the NBA has done it better and for longer and has used television as a platform to create a brand which stretches far beyond its native land. Its players have been made into personalities, vests into fashion items; sport twisted and turned into entertainment.

The television companies reap the rewards in reaching viewers who the advertisers wish to attract. And in building an identity which casts a warm glow on its other shows.

The Ultimate Assist explains how the machinery works. More an academic text than a guidebook, it isn't the easiest of reads. But it is as comprehensive a study of the marriage of TV and sport as you will find on the shelves.

Rating:  6/10

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