SBD/October 6, 2014/Media

ESPN, Turner Will Pay A Combined $24B In New Nine-Year NBA Media Rights Deal

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Sources said ESPN will account for about $1.4B of the new NBA deal per year

The NBA, ESPN and Turner today formally announced nine-year media-rights extensions worth a massive $24B through the '24-25 season. The new deals begin with the '16-17 season. The average annual $2.6B in combined payments is 2.8 times higher than the current deal, which averages around $930M per year. Sources say ESPN will account for about $1.4B of the deal per year; and Turner's payment will average around $1.2B. The league and the nets began negotiating in earnest back in February with both partners making sure the NBA did not turn to Comcast or Fox for a new deal. The deals keep other nets like FS1 and NBCSN from picking up a third package. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the NBA "had discussions, but not negotiations," with Comcast and Fox. Silver: "I don't think we left any money on the table." ESPN's deal includes radio, int'l and WNBA rights. ESPN President John Skipper said, "Sports rights are more and more valuable." Turner described this deal as a priority for its parent company, Time Warner. Turner President David Levy said, "It will be a meaningful valuable deal."

RECENT NBA MEDIA RIGHTS DEALS
PARTNER(S)
TOTAL DEAL
YEARS
TERM OF DEAL
ESPN
$12.6B
9
'16-17 through '24-25
Turner
$10.8B
9
'16-17 through '24-25
ESPN/Turner
$7.44B
8
'08-09 through '15-16
ESPN
$2.4B
6
'02-03 through '07-08
Turner
$2.2B
6
'02-03 through '07-08

NOT MUCH CHANGE: From a TV standpoint, the new deal will look a lot like the old deal, with all of the nets adding more games. ABC will still carry the NBA Finals exclusively, while TNT will have exclusive coverage of the All-Star Game. TNT will keep its Thursday night franchise and will increase the number of regular season games to 64 from 52. The additional 12 games will come on a different night at the back end of the season, with Turner being able to choose the best matchups. ESPN will have games Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays and will increase its schedule to 85 regular-season games, up from 70 under the current deal. ESPN also extended its WNBA deal through '25 and agreed to carry D-League and NBA Summer League games. NBA TV will present over 100 regular-season games, an increase from 96 regular-season games.

EVERYWHERE YOU LOOK: Much like it covers the NFL year round, ESPN wound up with enough content rights to cover the NBA year round. Both nets picked up rights to stream games via TV Everywhere -- something that was a sticking point during negotiations as the NBA had wanted to keep these rights. Turner will continue to manage the NBA's digital assets and also will receive added content for its Bleacher Report platform and will add an end-of-the-season award show. The biggest change comes from an over-the-top TV service, akin to NFL Now, on which ESPN will partner with the NBA. Details are scarce on the service. Execs do not know its name, when it will launch or what kind of content it will have. What is known is that the NBA will take an equity interest in the OTT service. Silver said the service would carry live games and other sports. ESPN's release announcing the deal said specific details "would be announced at a future date." Skipper reiterated that his company still was committed to pay-TV, adding that the OTT offering would be complementary.

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