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What to Know About the NBA's Upcoming 11-Year, $76 Billion Media Rights Deal
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By Associated Press
Published 1 week ago on
July 11, 2024

The NBA has agreed to terms on its new media deal, an 11-year agreement worth $76 billion that assures player salaries will continue rising for the foreseeable future and one that will surely change how some viewers access the game for years to come. (AP/Eric Gay)

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The NBA might not be happy with the NFL making Christmas Day a regular part of its schedule. However, its new media rights deals nearly put the two leagues in the same economic arena.

The NBA’s 11-year, $76 billion contracts would kick in with the 2025-26 season. The deal is for the same number of years as the NFL’s most recent deal, which began with the 2023 season.

The deals with ESPN/ABC, NBC and Amazon Prime Video will average $6.9 billion per season. The NFL averages $10 billion per year, but that is with five networks. Depending on how things fare with TNT Sports, the NBA could cross the $7 billion threshold.

The NFL remains the top attraction because of its ratings and advertising prowess. The NBA is a firm second and can command top dollar due to its younger viewers as well as having a ton of content.

When Does This Become Final?

At least not for a couple of weeks. The NBA has a board of governors meeting in Las Vegas next week and could approve the deal there. Once the league sends the finished contracts to TNT Sports, it would have five days to match one of the deals.

Does TNT Sports Have Any Chance?

Very slim. And if the NBA really wanted to keep one of its legacy partners in the game, it could have carved out a limited fourth package of games by now.

With TNT’s recent acquisitions of the French Open, College Football Playoff early-round games, the Big East and Mountain West, it appears owner Warner Bros. Discovery is preparing for life without the NBA in the fall of 2025. Turner Sports has had the NBA since 1984.

TNT Sports is paying $1.4 billion per season. Considering the amounts of the three proposed packages, that would make the Prime Video rights the one it would be likely to try to match.

Why Is the Deal So Long?

Leagues want economic certainty. For the networks and media companies that hold the rights, live sports continue to be prime real estate for advertisers.

How Will This Benefit the Fan?

You may need to go to your channel guide often, but during the last three months of the regular season there will be a national NBA telecast every night on either ABC, ESPN, NBC, Peacock or Prime Video.

Who Has the Top Package?

ESPN and ABC will continue to be home to the league’s marquee matchups, as well as the NBA Finals.

Even though the NBA will have two broadcast partners for the first time, the Walt Disney Company was adamant about not sharing the Finals. It will cost Disney $2.6 billion per year, which is just shy of the $2.7 billion per season it pays to the NFL for “Monday Night Football,” two playoff games and the Super Bowl in 2027 and 2031.

Under the current nine-year deal which expires next season, ESPN/ABC pay $1.4 billion per year.

Welcome Back, NBC

The network that carried all six of Michael Jordan’s title runs with the Chicago Bulls and the first three of Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant’s championships with the Los Angeles Lakers returns after carrying games from 1990 through 2002.

NBC will air a Sunday night package of games once the NFL regular season is over as well as NBA All-Star Weekend. It will regularly air games on Tuesday nights and have a package of Monday games streaming on Peacock.

NBC’s deal averages $2.5 billion per season, which is more than the $2 billion it gives to the NFL for “Sunday Night Football.”

Does This Mean ‘Roundball Rock’ Is Coming Back?

Yes. You don’t have to wait until the fall of 2025 to hear it though because NBC licenses it for its basketball coverage during the Olympics.

Is the NBA Entering the Streaming World?

Yes, with Prime Video. It will carry games on Thursday night after the NFL regular season ends, along with games on Friday and Saturday.

Prime Video will also be the main network for the in-season tournament. It will average paying $1.8 billion per season (its deal with the NFL averages $1.1 billion per year).

Because ABC Has the NBA Finals, Who Gets the Rest of the Playoffs?

All the networks will have games during the first two rounds. When it comes to the conference finals, ESPN/ABC has one series each season while NBC and Amazon Prime Video will alternate who carries the other one.

What Does This Mean for the NBA?

Labor peace was achieved with a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The media rights are about to be done. That puts expansion by at least two teams to 32 on deck. The expansion fees will also carry a nice financial windfall for teams.

For players, it means the league’s salary cap will see an annual 10% increase. Get ready for the possibility that the top players may be earning somewhere near $100 million per season by the mid-2030s.

Is the WNBA a Part of This Rights Deal?

Yes. All three partners will carry games. ESPN/ABC and Prime Video already have games while NBC will return to carrying the WNBA after doing the first six seasons (1997 through 2002). It is possible the WNBA could still add more partners like it has in recent seasons.

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