This section of German Hoops should help you to find out more about the different leagues (BBL, ProA and ProB) in Germany and the participating teams.
Basketball in Germany
Basketball is one of the more popular sports in Germany, however it still ranks far behind soccer in spectator favour and meaning. in 2016/17 Germany’s premier soccer league had a spectator average of abou 41.ooo per game, the Basketball Bundesliga had just 4424 spectators during the same period of time. I assume that 4 of 5 people in Germany know who Dirk Nowitzki is, yet you could ask for hours about the current Basketball Bundesliga topscorer without the correct answer. Unfortunatly the media is not really covering basketball well. There is a famous TV show in Germany called “Sportschau” (sports show) that basically is a two-hour soccer show. That actually says all about te meaning of basketball (and any other sports in Germany that is not called soccer). Still, basketball has a loyal fanbase and compared to other european countries the spectator average is among the highest.
Basketball in Germany has its origin in cities with big universities and where the US army had its troops stationed. During the 60s, 70s and 80s cities like Heidelberg, Gießen and Göttingen won multiple championships. Basketball used to be the sports of students.
That changed in the early 90s. With the Dream Team celebrating basketball in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona and a streetball boom powered by Adidas a lot of teenagers discovered basketball as their new number one sport. The national league and the clubs could benefit a bit from that boom, but it still is the NBA most kids enjoy to watch and not the top domestic league (BBL).
TV situation and league sponsors
After some years without a major sponsor for the league and a free TV deal the Basketball Bundesliga has done a terrific job this summer. With the help of Frankfurt’s coach Murat Didin the BBL managed to ink a six year deal with Beko, a producer for domestic appliance. This means the league’s new name will be BEKO BBL. In the 90s the league had been called ‘Veltins Basketball Bundesliga’ and from 2001 to 2003 it was clothing company s.Oliver that was eponymous. Also Deutsche Bahn (german railroad company) had been a sponsor for some years, but did not extend the partnership 2005.
What really had hurt the BBL in recent years was that basketball was not presented in free TV. In the late 90s and the beginning of the new century german sportsnetwork DSF had been a partner for live games and SAT1 was airing a weekly magazine. But after the contracts had expired both DSF and SAT1 were not interested in broadcasting basketball anymore. While SAT1 is a privately owned station that mainly broadcasts films, DSF showed only interest in the german national team with Dirk Nowirtki for some years. During the summer the sports station broadcasted European and World Championship games, but was not interested in the domestic league anymore. Low viewing rates and high costs of production scared away DSF.
BBL decided to handle that situation in two different ways. First they signed a deal with pay TV station Premiere (now called Sky) and between 2005 and 2007 the games were broascasted there. The games were shown in a really nice quality with a lot more camera angles and the viewer did not have to deal with any commercial breaks. But as pay TV is in general not really working in Germany this partnership was not exactly a success. Even basketball fans were not willing to pay between 20 and 30 Euros to see 4 or 5 basketball games per month. In 2007 the league opted for a different solution and decided to air the games via internet streams. The number of games was rising as fans now could see about 100 games per year paying about 50 Euros for the season package. But this did not solve the main problem that basketball was not seen by the average sportsfan.
Surpringly Sport1 (formerly known as DSF) decided to go for a new three year deal with BBL this summer. At least 50 games will be broascasted and some games can also be watched online for free on sport1.de. Sign Up here! The sports network broadcasts from the Astra 1H, 1M, and 3A satellites and is uplinked by ASTRA Platform Services. It is also possible to watch Sport1 via cable. If you still can not get the station, there is another solution. With Zattoo viewers from all over the world can see german television. Zattoo is for free and DSF is also included on that platform. Broadcasting time will regularly be published on the BBL homepage.
Again In-The-Game has done a great job listing all european countries and their foreigner regulations. Just like any other sports the BBL had to face major changes in 1995 due to the Bosman ruling. Players from eastern europe and especially from former Yugoslavia joined the german league. But still there were only 2 import (american) players per team allowed. In 2005 the BBL abolished that rule and started to play without any foreigner restriction. Only the number of german players had to be fulfiled. It started with 2 and was increased now to 5. As a result of that many young and unexperienced americans joined the league for rather low salaries. German quality players (especially national players) suddenly became “too expansive” for the clubs and had to leave the country. A player like Denis Wucherer e.g. had to finish his career in Belgium, because no BBL club was interested in his services anymore. A legend like Mike Koch had planned to finish his career in Germany, but in 2005 no team was willing to sign him, so he played one more season with Rhöndorf in Germany’s second division. Another difficulty that emerged with this new rule was that talented germans did hardly get any playing time. Most of the teams relied on american players instead of developing young domestic players. For the future of the german national team this situation was very unsatisfying as many teams hired germans just to warm the bench or be the busdriver.
Just days before the new season started the teams agreed to extend the number of german players in the future. Until 2014 the league wants every team to have at least 6 germans on the team. This looks like a good decision that does not force coaches to play with germans (like it is in ProA and ProB), but still it gives them a realistic chance to get some playing time.
News, Stats and Club-Infos
For daily news and transactions I recommend you to visit the German section of Eurobasket.com. This section is updated regularly and for english readers it is the best way to get the hottest news.
Individual and Team Statistics are available on the league’s homepage. Player stats can be found here and for game stats just click here. Unfortunatly the BBL site does not include an english version. But when it comes to numbers and stats it helps a lot that the international language of basketball uses the same vocabularies. English readers should be able to find what they are looking for.
Some clubs even have english versions of their homepages. Teams like Frankfurt, Berlin, Artland Dragons, or newcomer Hagen got english homepages, but still most of the clubs do not have that. On the official BBL site you can find club infos here.
In 1975 Germany’s second league was founded. 32 teams were divided into a north and a south division and played their own competition (so there was no north team ever playing against a south team). At the end of a regular season the champion of each division was promoted to the BBL (first division). Ever since the 2007/08 campaign the second division changed that classification and grouped teams into a ProA and a ProB section. Now the best second division teams play in the new grouped nationwide ProA and those teams who are too far away from a pro infrastructure compete in the ProB league. In fact the ProA is now the second highest level league in Germany and ProB is the country’s third league.
But check out the details to understand the differences between both leagues:
In ProA compete teams that have the aim to compete in the BBL sooner or later. Besides the sports part the clubs need to meet demands like a parquet floor, an arena with room for +1500 spectators and at least a 350.000 € budget. Every ProA team must play with two german players on the court at any time. Currently the league comprises 16 teams from all over the country. At the end of the league stage the top two teams qualify for the Basketball Bundesliga (BBL) and the teams positioned 15th and 16th are relegated to a lower league. For the 2011/12 campaign the teams agreed to have play-off competition to crown a champion and a runner-up that will move up to the BBL.
Click here to see the ProA homepage.
Unfortunatly there is no english version. But here are you can find some numbers:
The ProB was also a nationwide league from 2007-2010. Since this season (2010/11) the league is divided into a north and a south division. You can find many teams here that are far away from professional standards. The only real restrictions here are that at any stage of the game three german players must be on the court and the teams need to play in an arena for at least 500 spectators. Each division has 12 clubs and the teams finishing the season in the top 8 qualify for the ProB play-offs. The first of the south plays against the eighth of the north, 2nd vs 7th, etc. At the end of the play-offs the two best teams will be promoted to the ProA league. The teams that finish the regular season between 9 and 12 have to compete in play-downs and the loser of the best-of-three games will be relegated to Regionalliga (4th highest level league in Germany)