NBA To Begin TV Rights Talks This Summer, Two Years Before Current Deals Expire
The NBA "plans to start informal negotiations on its next media rights deal this summer, two years before its current ESPN and Turner Sports deals wrap up," according to sources cited by Ourand & Lombardo of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. ESPN and Turner are paying the league a combined $930M annually as part of the current deals, which started with the '08-09 season. The current deals were a 20% "increase in rights fees over the league’s previous contracts." Given the "bullish state of the market for live sports and new digital rights opportunities, the NBA is likely to see a much higher percentage increase this time." A formal deal is "not expected until next year," when Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver succeeds David Stern as commissioner. The NBA's TV business was "an agenda topic" at the April 19 BOG meeting. Typically, large sports properties "start TV talks roughly a year before contracts come to an end." The NBA is "deciding to test the waters now, with the cost of sports rights at an all-time high." ESPN and Turner "both have said they are interested in renewing." Turner in particular is "tied into the league, having carried games" since '88. Turner also "runs the NBA’s digital business." But the incumbents "will have competition," as Fox Sports 1, set for launch this summer, "is looking for live sports content." NBC also is "interested in bringing live sports content" to NBC Sports Network (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 5/13 issue).