This morning, the NBA announced a new 8 year TV deal with its current partners, TNT and ESPN/ABC. Here’s ESPN’s announcement. What had been delaying the official deal was the use of NBA games on digital platforms. ESPN will get to use highlights on its website, plus webcast games on ESPN360. TNT will also be able to stream games in its website.
Overall, ESPN/ESPN2 will show 75 games on Wednesday and Friday nights, TNT will have 52 games exclusively on Thursday and ABC will air just 15 games. NBA TV will air up to 96 games so the league will have games airing nationally six nights a week. ESPN will show more early round playoff games and so will ABC. And the Finals will remain in ABC, all games in primetime. The Sports Media Watch blog has its own take on the situation.
The news of announcement is the increase of digital platforms for the NBA. Overall, the number of games on cable as opposed to over the air remains the same. NBC had aired as many as 35 so if the ratings for the NBA on ABC remain low, they can look at the low number of games on free TV.
Darren Rovell of CNBC.com says one beneficiary of the NBA TV deal is the former owners of the ABA’s Spirits of St. Louis who made a deal with the four owners of the old league that merged into the NBA back in 1976.
In a programming note, we will be running a package all day on CNBC tomorrow on the deal made by the Silna brothers, who as the owners of the Spirits of St. Louis, made a deal to get 1/7th of the television revenue of the Spurs, Nuggets, Nets and Pacers as part of the ABA-NBA merger.
That money has grown from a total of $8 million in the 1980′s to $13 million a year from the current TV contract, as Darren wrote for ESPN.com six years ago. That money will increase with the new pact that takes effect next year. This is a deal that doesn’t end. That’s right, this deal is in perpetuity. Good work if you can get it.