Last season, the NBA got $930 million in broadcast rights fees from Disney (owners of ESPN and ABC) and Time Warner (owners of Turner and therefore TNT).
Not shabby, you say? Major League Baseball gets $1.5 billion (from three different entities) and the NFL gets $4.9 billion. The NBA wants a bigger slice of the pie.
In their new television deal, the NBA is looking to double that, reports the Wall Street Journal.
The NBA and its existing broadcast partners have been in negotiations on a new deal since last summer and where those negotiations stand will be part of the conversation when NBA owners sit down for their annual summer meetings in Las Vegas this week.
Among the conversations to take place, according to the report.
• Splitting the NBA Finals broadcasts between TNT and ABC. While TNT (which helps operate NBA TV) covers games Tuesday/Thursday night games all season and a number of games in the playoffs, ABC has the Finals. TNT wants in on the Finals. (Most fans seem to prefer the TNT broadcasts, particularly the pre/post game shows on TNT, where Inside the NBA is one of the best shows in sports.) However dividing up a series (some games on one network, some on another), so some fans have to go hunting for the station, is a pretty big role of the dice.
• The NBA can’t negotiate with other entities yet. However, before leaving office former commissioner David Stern said he like the NFL model where the sport was split among every network. It is thought the NBA wants to add a nightly national game, maybe Saturday night, broadcast with a new partner (Fox Sports is rumored to be the frontrunner there).
Sports broadcast rights are skyrocketing in price in recent years because in a world where we DVR/stream everything and fast-forward through the advertisements, sports are appointment viewing. You pretty much have to watch them when they happen, you can’t DVR Game 5 of the NBA Finals and watch it two days later without already knowing what happened.
The NBA’s ratings have been climbing for several seasons.
However the new deal works out, the new television revenue would kick in starting in the summer of 2016.
For teams and players this means more cash (the salary cap is based on a split of league revenues between the owners and players) — the current salary cap of $63 million is expected to jump that year up to $75 million or more, according to reports. That means more money in contracts — it’s one key reason LeBron James signed a two-year deal in Cleveland. He will be a free agent in 2016 and if the salary cap jumps $10 million a max salary for him would jump $3.5 million a year.