NBA hires BBC, Eurosport alum Ralph Rivera to oversee Europe and Middle East expansion

The NBA has named Ralph Rivera its managing director for efforts in Europe and the Middle East. / Edgar Chapparo via Unsplash

The NBA has announced the hire of Ralph Rivera as managing director of NBA Europe and Middle East (NBA EME).

Rivera has been scheduled to start on Jan 2, 2019, and has oversight of the league’s basketball and business development throughout Europe and the Middle East and has support from existing regional leadership to grow the sport’s popularity.

The 30-year industry vet was most recently the managing director of Eurosport Digital under Discovery Communications, leading the digital business, including its OTT platform and its Eurosport presence. From his start in 2016, he helped launch premium sports rights partnerships for the 2018 Winter Olympics, Bundesliga and Lega Basket Serie A. The OTT sports platform has reached nearly 70 countries under his leadership and sixtupled its subscriber count in those 2 years to over 1.3 million.

Prior to Discovery Communications, Rivera spent six years as director of BBC Digital, increasing the network’s online reach to 40 million people and making the BBC iPlayer the top OTT video service in the UK. He also spent time at Major League Gaming and AOL’s gaming and international programming divisions.

The NBA has said that Rivera will be based in London and will report to NBA’s chief operating officer Mark Tatum. Tatum said in a statement: “Ralph’s extensive experience in leading prominent media and sports companies make him well-suited to oversee the league’s operations in Europe and the Middle East,” said Tatum. “We are looking forward to working with Ralph to help take basketball and the NBA to even greater heights throughout the region.”

Rivera added: “It is an honor to join the NBA at a time when the league has never been more popular. I am excited to work with our partners to explore new ways to reach and engage basketball fans in Europe and the Middle East and increase the number of young boys and girls playing the game.”

This recent hire follows another key appointment for the league's global expansion: back in April, the NBA appointed former DirecTV exec Derek Chang as its chief executive overseeing Asia.

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