While it’s only been around for a short while, Ice Cube’s BIG3 has already evolved into a valuable basketball property for networks. After drawing very solid ratings for Fox in its second season, the 3-on-3 league’s distribution for the 2019 season was up in the air. After Ice Cube and other investors were involved in a play for the Fox RSNs, the league signed an exclusive deal with CBS.
At the time the plan was to broadcast games live on CBS and CBS Sports Network on both Saturdays and Sundays. CBS was set to show more than 20 hours of games while CBS Sports Network would have featured 25 hours of additional live game coverage. Like so many other things, those plans went on hold with the pandemic. Though the league considered hosting a “quarantined, reality show-style three-on-three tournament,” the 2020 season was officially canceled in May with plans to return in 2021.
On Friday, Yahoo! Sports reported that the league would indeed be returning with plans to begin play on July 10.
“After a challenging year, we can’t wait to have our players back on the court for the best BIG3 season yet – where the world’s top competitors come together on one court and provide fans with an unmatched entertainment experience. We are excited to bring the BIG3 to two basketball-rich cities and we know our players will put on a show,” said BIG3 Co-Founders, Ice Cube and Jeff Kwatinetz, in a statement posted on the league’s website.
Per the report, the league will play a 10-week schedule with games in two different locations. Some games will be played in Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, and others will be played at Xavier University of Louisiana, an HBCU in New Orleans. CBS will continue to be the league’s broadcast partner and will air each game live.
— BIG3 (@thebig3) April 2, 2021
“We always want to partner with the best, so we are thrilled to team up once again with CBS to showcase the BIG3 game with first-class production,” said BIG3 CEO Chris Hannan.
The first eight weeks of the schedule will be the regular-season portion, followed by a week of playoffs, and then a championship game to be played on Saturday, September 4.
The league featured 12 teams in its previous season, though it’s unclear if that will also be the number of teams in the upcoming season. The BIG3 reduced its age restriction from 27 to 22 following the 2019 season and is now open to both non-professional and professional athletes.
As far as attendance, the allowed capacities will be determined in coordination with health and safety officials and in accordance with updated protocols in each arena.