Lockout could cost $1 billion in television ad revenue. Billion. With a “B.”


You think you don’t want a lockout because you don’t want to miss Kwame Brown getting to shoot more, imagine how much the suits at ABC/ESPN and Turner Broadcasting (TNT) are dreading it.

A lockout could cost $1 billion in ad revenue, according to Ad Age (via the legendary Nate Jones). That is billion. As in not Kobe Bryant money but Mark Cuban money.

Television ratings are up this season about 30 percent (attendance at the gate is flat). ESPN could really feel the pinch, the story notes.

TNT clearly has the programming to fill the void if there is no NBA next season, but sports-centric ESPN would have to scramble. Unlike the NBA lockout in 1999, ESPN no longer has the National Hockey League to fall back on. And, according to a report prepared by analysts from RBC Capital, Disney derives 55% of its revenue from sports, primarily from ESPN.

There are a number of companies that base their marketing around those games — Nike and Adidas are selling a lot of shoes, for example, and would not have the showcase for new lines or hot endorsers. Then there are league sponsors, like the recently signed BBVA (A Spanish banking group) and American Express. They will be scrambling for other venues to get the word out.

The lockout is coming — Carmelo Anthony says so. But the money doesn’t really start to be lost until games start being lost and that is the ultimate key. Lockouts in the dead of the offseason are one thing; ones that cost games are another thing entirely. And if it costs games, it’s going to cost a lot of money.