NBA Secures Partnership With ESPN, Turner Sports Through 2024-25
The NBA expanded its long-term broadcast partnerships with Walt Disney Co. and Turner Broadcasting, inking nine-year deals with both companies that begin with the 2016-17 season and run through 2024-25.
ABC, ESPN, and TNT will combine to televise more national regular-season games than ever before, continuing to show games on Wednesdays (ESPN), Thursdays (TNT), Fridays (ESPN), and Sundays (ABC/ESPN). NBA TV’s Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Saturday game telecasts will fill out the schedule, ensuring a full week of nationally televised games. In addition, the NBA’s 24-hour network will present more than 100 regular-season games each year.
“The Walt Disney Co. and Turner Broadcasting share responsibility for the growing popularity and interest the NBA enjoys, and we are thrilled to extend our partnerships,” says NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “With these new agreements, our fans will continue to benefit from the outstanding NBA coverage and programming provided by ABC, ESPN, TNT, NBA TV, and their digital platforms.”
According to SportsBusiness Journal, the deals are worth a combined $24 billion. The average annual $2.6 billion payment far exceeds the current deal (which totals approximately $930 million per year), with ESPN accounting for approximately $1.4 billion per year and Turner paying approximately $1.2 billion.
Under the agreement, ABC and ESPN will combine to televise 10 additional regular-season games for a total of 100. ABC will broadcast up to 15 regular-season games, beginning on Christmas Day and continuing on Sunday afternoons. ESPN and ESPN2 will broadcast up to 85 regular-season games, primarily on Wednesday and Friday nights. In addition, ABC will have the ability to move selected Sunday games to ESPN.
The NBA postseason will continue to begin and conclude on ESPN networks, with ESPN and ABC combining to broadcast up to 44 NBA postseason games, including the Conference Finals. ABC will continue to be the exclusive broadcast home of the finals.
“The NBA has never been more popular, and it continues to grow under Adam’s leadership,” says ESPN President John Skipper. “By acquiring significantly more NBA content for both existing and yet-to-be created platforms, we will establish a vibrant, year-round NBA presence for fans. For ESPN, this agreement continues our fruitful, longstanding relationship with the NBA and bolsters what is already the sports industry’s most impressive and impactful collection of media rights.”
Continuing a long-standing tradition, ESPN and ABC will continue to broadcast NBA Christmas Day, as well as the NBA’s season-opening week and NBA All-Star festivities, such as the Celebrity All-Star Game. The network will also have exclusive coverage of the NBA Draft and NBA Draft Lottery each season.
ESPN plans to substantially increase its NBA-focused programming with 750 new hours of NBA content across its linear and digital platforms. The deal also includes increased access to NBA footage and highlights, including in-progress highlights, across all linear and digital platforms.
In Latin America, the Caribbean, Australia, and New Zealand, ESPN International will carry significantly more exclusive regular-season and playoff games on ESPN platforms. Stateside, additional regular-season and playoff games will broadcast on ESPN Deportes and ESPN Deportes+.
The deal also includes enhanced WNBA, Development League, and Summer League coverage and rights to in-progress highlights.
ESPN will have the rights to stream games and provide additional NBA content on a live, delayed, and on-demand basis across all its multimedia platforms, including ESPN.com and WatchESPN. The parties have also established a framework for ESPN and the NBA to negotiate the launch of a new over-the-top offering in which the league would receive equity interest. Details for the new offering will be announced at a future date.
This new agreement ensures a 23-year continuous relationship between the network and league, beginning in 2002.
Turner Sports will add 12 live regular-season games on TNT for a total of 64 and will expand digital-media rights and sales opportunities. The additional 12 games will air over the second half of the season on another night of the week than the network’s traditional Thursday-night doubleheaders.
Turner Sports will continue to manage the NBA’s digital assets out of its Atlanta production facility, including NBA TV, NBA.com, NBA Mobile, NBA LEAGUE PASS, WNBA.com, and NBADLeague.com.
“This is a significant deal for our company, and we are pleased to continue our long-standing partnership with the NBA, its fans, owners, and players,” says Turner Broadcasting System President David Levy. “The agreement locks in some of the most valuable, original, premium live sports programming that we’ll continue to monetize across TNT and all other platforms within our extensive portfolio and will help further grow our businesses into the next decade.”
Beginning with the 2016-17 season, TNT will be the home of NBA Opening Night, host exclusive Thursday-night regular-season doubleheaders; and broadcast exclusive coverage of NBA All-Star Weekend events, including NBA All-Star Saturday Night and the NBA All-Star Game. TNT will also debut the first-ever NBA Awards Show at the end of the season.
TNT will broadcast more NBA Playoff games than any other network ¾ up to 45 during the first two rounds, including live first-round coverage, exclusive second-round game telecasts, and one Conference Final (alternating between the Eastern and Western Conference each year).
Under the terms of the new agreement, Turner Sports will also maintain TV Everywhere rights that allow all NBA content airing across Turner Broadcasting networks to be streamed live across the company’s multiple digital platforms. Additionally, Turner will have enhanced digital rights to have the NBA deliver content for Bleacher Report, including authenticated streaming rights for NBA on TNT games.
Turner first agreed to a deal with the NBA in 1984, and this marks the eighth agreement between the two organizations over the past 30 years.
The agreements were announced today by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver; Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, chairman of the NBA’s Media Committee; Turner Broadcasting System President David Levy; and ESPN President/Disney Media Networks Co-Chairman John Skipper. The NBA’s current eight-year deals with ABC/ESPN and TNT expire at the end of the 2015-16 season.