Report: NBA recouped about $1.5 billion with bubble restart, playoffs

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It was always all about the money. No matter what NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was selling.

In that regard, the NBA restart in a bubble on the Walt Disney Resort property in Orlando was a success, reports John Lombardo of SportsBusiness Daily:

According to sources familiar with the league’s finances, the Disney restart allowed the NBA to stem the loss of about $1.5 billion in expected revenue, the bulk of the money tied to national and local television revenue followed by league sponsorships.

It cost about $180 million for the league to put on the bubble.

“Without a doubt, it was worth it,” said one executive from a Disney bubble team of the massive effort and investment needed to complete the longest season in NBA history.

That $1.5 billion did not come close to making the NBA and its teams whole from the lost games due to the coronavirus pandemic, but it limited the bleeding. The league’s revenue took a serious hit with around 20% of home games canceled, then the playoffs delayed and moved to a bubble. Rating for the playoffs and Finals were down, as they have been across the board for all sports (particularly ones playing out of season).

Right now, the NBA and the players’ union are negotiating the salary cap — and cap smoothing — for next season, something Silver talked about during the Finals. Those talks include forecasting the revenue for next season, a tricky proposition because nobody knows when fans will be allowed back in arenas in mass (and if they will come when they can). Those negotiations are aided by the money the league recouped with the bubble.

“I don’t have expectations of labor issues… I think while no doubt there will be issues and difficult negotiations ahead, I think we’ll work them out as we always have,” Silver said.