Report: Lockout could cost ESPN, ABC, TNT $1.25 billion

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The list of people with a lot to lose if the NBA lockout stretches out just keeps right on growing.

Next up are the networks that David Stern calls NBA partners — ESPN and ABC, as well as TNT.

They will be some angry partners if the numbers from AdWeek are correct (via CBS Eye on Basketball).

ESPN/ABC Sports and TNT stand to lose as much as $1.25 billion in ad sales revenue if the labor dispute negates the entire2011-12 NBA campaign. Indeed, the NBA audience has become so valuable that the postseason inventory alone accounts for nearly a fifth of the full-season take.

If the networks stand to lose a fortune in ad dollars, the league itself risks billions in media rights, ticket sales, and merchandising. ESPN/ABC pays $485 million per year for the rights to air NBA games while TNT forks over $445 million.

And that doesn’t even include all the local television rights deals, which are the lifeblood of many teams.

As we noted in the story about how the television contracts are the elephant in the room of the CBA negotiations — both sides want to keep the lion’s share of future television revenues when the new contracts come in in 2016.

Those contracts are expected to be a lot larger than the current ones — unless interest in the league drops. Which is the kind of thing that happens if a lockout costs games or a season. The networks will want to recoup their losses, and you can guess whose hide it comes out of.

Fun stuff, this lockout.