Report: NBA’s new $2 billion-a-year television deal would keep rights as they are with only ESPN, Turner


The NBA is reportedly on the verge of signing a new television rights deal that would kick in starting with the 2016-17 season and would basically double the amount of television revenue coming into the league. This could be very good for players who want to get paid, it’s certainly good for the owners pocketbooks (as if we were really worried about that).

It also means the NBA would be broadcast nationally as it is now on ESPN/ABC and Turner (TNT, NBA TV) — and that’s it. (Which is plenty for most fans, frankly.)

While there were rumors of another network — specifically Fox Sports 1 — picking up a game a week for the second half of the season, that appears dead according to the Sports Business Journal report.

A final deal might not be signed or announced before the new season, but talks with ESPN and Turner are advanced enough that sources said there is little chance the NBA will carve out a third package for another network, like Fox Sports or NBC Sports. ESPN, in particular, has been adamant during negotiations that the NBA not develop a new package to sell to a competitive sports network, sources said.

The NBA cannot talk to other networks until the middle of next year, when ESPN and Turner’s exclusive negotiating window runs out. Barring an unforeseen snag in the ongoing negotiations, all sides expect new deals to be signed well before that happens.

For the record, while this blog is an NBC property, as a blogger I’m not consulted on potential national broadcasting moves and decisions. Shocking, I know. I didn’t help develop The Blacklist either.

Reports had been that Fox Sports was the real interested party, there had been talk of them doing a Monday night game that would get highlighted. That would leave Turner with Tuesday/Thursday and ESPN with Wednesday/Friday most weeks of the regular season (after the end of the NFL season the NBA starts to air more games). David Stern said before he retired he likes how the NFL television deal has a piece with all the major networks.

That apparently is not going to be the case here. At the very least this is a shot across the bow of Fox saying “ESPN is paying a billion, the price has gone way up for that one game a week you want.”

Maybe the NBA wants more exposure, but I think the current coverage works — for the casual fan there is no shortage of NBA games available if you have cable/satellite. Most weeks ESPN/TNT broadcast six games, and that’s not counting NBA TV games or ones shown on local broadcast rights whatever is your home team. There is more streaming online now and more coming in that department. If that’s not enough, if you’re a junkie like me, get the league pass.

So long as Turner/TNT keeps the Inside the NBA crew together, I’m good.