5 minute read

EASL (East Asia Super League) CEO Matt Beyer ended his 10-day hotel quarantine in Hong Kong the other night but even while he was isolated, it didn’t stop him from making calls and appearing in zoom meetings to put forward exciting plans for the launch of the region’s first multi-nation, FIBA-sanctioned, home-and-away competition in October next year.
The five-month season would’ve started this year but because of the pandemic, it wasn’t possible to arrange home-and-away travel without quarantine protocols. The delay has given Beyer and his colleagues more time to reach out to prospective investors and sponsors to jump into the bandwagon that will bring together top teams from the Philippines, South Korea, Japan and Greater China.

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Beyer and CFO Henry Kerins, both Hong Kong-based, were recently in the US to drum up interest in EASL. For two months, they met with high-profile NBA players, their agents, retired legends and big-time funders to lay out EASL’s profile as an investment option. The response was far more than they expected. “In time, we’ll disclose who are on board as investors, endorsers or ambassadors,” said Beyer. “As a hint, I can disclose that the list includes NBA All-Stars and Tokyo Olympians. They envision EASL as the start of the Asian boom in basketball like the Champions League in Europe. The popularity of basketball got a tremendous boost from the Champions League and look at where European countries are situated in the FIBA world rankings today. With EASL, we expect a similar boom where Asian countries will move up to 15 to 20 in the FIBA ladder. Investors are anticipating massive growth in Asia, particularly in China and EASL will be at the forefront of this boom. The Philippines, South Korea and Japan will benefit from this growth as players improve their skill sets playing against the best from other countries and raising the quality of play not only with their national teams but also in their domestic leagues. It’s a win-win partnership for all.”

From a financial standpoint, Beyer said in the first two seasons, returns will be modest but solid. Starting the third season, profitability will kick in and maybe, by season five, EASL may even put up an IPO so that in the long-term, it will be an attractive buy for tech companies or expanding leagues. “The trends are clear in Asia,” said Beyer. “We’re in this for the long haul. Basketball is what we do best and with our experience, we know this will grow exponentially. Our projections are realistic, our portfolio is ready. EASL is the future.”

Beyer said he’s eager to sign up the participating countries now even as the league won’t start until next year. “Obviously, we’ll need to lay the groundwork way before we launch,” he said. “Right now, we’re heavily involved in digital marketing. We’ve signed up the B-League of Japan, KBL of Korea and organized a unique franchise for Greater China with players from the CBA, Hong Kong and Taiwan coached by a big name from the Tokyo Olympics plus a team from the Taiwan P-League. We’re still missing the Philippines and we’re hoping to do a signing soon. When we did the Terrific 12 in Macau in 2019, we generated 117 million views from 36 media platforms. Since June 2020, we’ve created a base of 350 million followers. We brought the B-League of Japan to nine digital platforms in China with Chinese commentators and we can do the same with the KBL and PBA. We’re doing cross-marketing storytelling, using digital content with an entertaining style that attracts a wide segment of fans. We’re planning to do a reality series focused on players and coaches that should be a Netflix-type of program. We’re not able to move forward unless all our partners are signed in so we’re hoping to invite the PBA to join even in the middle of this pandemic. This partnership will also gather the top basketball leaders in China, Korea, Japan and the Philippines so there is unity in their leagues without poaching players or coaches.”

Beyer said FIBA has been extremely supportive of EASL’s efforts. “Our alliance with FIBA is based on our mutual vision to grow the sport regionally,” he said. “To be part of the FIBA family is a blessing as we’re coordinated in terms of scheduling of games without conflict. We’re working together to accelerate the growth of the game in East Asia. We feel that the residual effect is strengthening the national teams of Japan, China, Korea and the Philippines and that can only be good news considering Asia has been the center of basketball since the 2014 FIBA World Cup to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and to the 2023 FIBA World Cup.”

Beyer, a Milwaukee native, took time to visit his hometown and watch a few NBA Finals games during his US trip. It was a good omen that the Bucks won the title. The Bucks’ luck will rub off on EASL for sure and with Beyer’s Milwaukee connection, the outlook can only be bright for basketball in East Asia.

Source: Philstar.com
Joaquin M. Henson
Sep 03, 2021

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