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Volume 23 No. 23
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Bucks’ new deal with Fox RSN worth $200M

The Giannis effect is in full force in Milwaukee where the Bucks have cashed in on a new local TV deal with Fox Sports Wisconsin that will see its rights fee climb to $26 million next season.


The two sides agreed to a seven-year deal worth more than $200 million, sources said. As part of the deal, which still needs to be approved by the league, Fox will pay the Bucks $26 million for their rights next year, up from a payout that was in the low $20 million range last season.


With 4 percent annual escalators, the contract averages around $30 million per year. The deal falls in line with similar local NBA deals Fox Sports has signed recently. In March, Fox Sports Southeast signed a long-term deal with the Charlotte Hornets that carries an annual average value in the high $20 million range.


The Bucks’ previous deal with Fox Sports Wisconsin carried an annual average in the high teens, sources said.


The Bucks were represented in the negotiations by Karen Brodkin and Hillary Mandel from IMG Media, a division of Endeavor.


Fox Sports has been cutting these local sports rights deals as Fox has been in the process of selling its group of RSNs to Disney. At the end of last year, Disney offered $52.4 billion for Fox’s entertainment assets and RSNs. Fox and Disney shareholders plan to vote on the deal by July 10, though Comcast has said that it also wants to bid on Fox’s entertainment assets.


Timing worked in the Bucks’ favor, as the deal comes after a breakthrough season for the team and Giannis Antetokounmpo, an all-star known as the “Greek Freak” whose superstar status has thrust the team into NBA relevance with two consecutive playoff appearances.


Led by Antetokounmpo, the Bucks finished the 2017-18 NBA season with a 44-38 record and were the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, where they lost in a seven-game first-round series to the Boston Celtics.


Increased interest in the team is reflected in its local RSN ratings that this past season rose almost 6 percent to its highest TV ratings in more than 12 years. The team’s 2.30 rating last season placed the Bucks in the top half of the league.


The team’s momentum was also seen at the gate where average attendance climbed nearly 6 percent this past season to an average of 16,715 fans per game at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Next season, the Bucks will open their new, $524 million arena, a project that has also raised the team’s profile in Milwaukee.


Neither Fox Sports Wisconsin nor Bucks officials would comment on the new deal.