New Nets, YES Network deal shows value of NBA rights

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Last season, on an average night the Brooklyn Nets drew 0.55 percent of the New York market to watch their games on the YES Network. That was the lowest percentage of any NBA team, and it was down 29 percent from the year before. For that, they got $20 million from the network.

Monday, the Nets and YES Network announced reset and reached new terms on their television deal for the next five years — and Brooklyn will get more than $40 million a year now. That figure comes from the Sports Business Journal, and it may be low.

You read that right, the Nets will get at least double the annual local television income next season despite being a struggling to draw fans and being a team that (unless they land an unlikely free agent coup) will be mediocre on the court for the next few years. To be fair, considering the size of the New York market (despite the low ratings percentage the size of the market means a fair amount of eyeballs) and the current demand for sports properties by cable networks, the Nets were likely underpaid on the old deal.

But this massive jump shows just how hot the NBA is right now.

And it doesn’t even factor in the money the Nets will get from the increased national television rights deal that kicks in for next season.

YES maintains the digital rights in this deal — that is big. Streaming is quickly becoming both how many people consume games and a profit center for networks (you can sell ads into a stream).

Owners in every professional sport have to wonder how long the cable rights fees gravy train is going to last. Consumers want to move to a la carte programming — where they can choose whether to pay for ESPN, NBC SportsNetwork, Food Network or any other channel individually — if they are not cutting the cord all together. With that cable fees will dry up for the networks, and so will the money for the splurge on broadcast rights. Things will evolve in a way that is hard to predict right now (although streaming will be a big part of it).

But that day is not today. For at least the next handful of years — five in the Nets’ case — the money will keep on flowing.