Advanced Television

ESPN, ABC and TNT secure NBA rights

October 7, 2014

nbaThe National Basketball Association (NBA) has expanded its partnerships with Turner Broadcasting System and The Walt Disney Company through new, nine-year agreements under which ABC, TNT, and ESPN will televise NBA games beginning with the 2016-17 season and running through the 2024-25 season. The new deal is reported to be worth more than $2.5 billion per year and covers a range of multi-platform and TV Everywhere rights.

The agreements were announced 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 and 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.

“The Walt Disney Company and Turner Broadcasting share responsibility for the growing popularity and interest the NBA enjoys, and we are thrilled to extend our partnerships,” said 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.”

Under the agreement, ESPN will be granted enhanced digital rights to provide NBA content for multiple ESPN platforms, including 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 an equity interest. Details for the new offering will be announced at a future date.

ABC will remain the exclusive network for the NBA Finals and both ESPN and ABC will combine for up to 44 post-season games, including the conference finals. ESPN will continue to air the draft, draft combine and draft lottery. ESPN’s current relationship covering NBA games on television began in 2002, when the network won the rights from NBC. TNT has been covering the NBA since 1988.

“The NBA has never been more popular and it continues to grow under Adam’s leadership,” Skipper said. “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, long-standing relationship with the NBA and bolsters what is already the sports industry’s most impressive and impactful collection of media rights.”

Turner’s multimedia platforms will have the ability to stream TNT-televised games, highlights, and non-game programming on a live, delayed and on-demand basis. Additionally, Turner will maintain TV Everywhere rights that allow for all NBA content airing across Turner Broadcasting networks to be streamed live, delayed and on-demand across the company’s multiple digital platforms.

“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,” said Levy. “The agreement locks in some of the most valuable, original, premium live sports programming that we’ll continue to monetise across TNT and all other platforms within our extensive portfolio and will help further grow our businesses into the next decade.”

“These nine-year extensions with Disney and Turner recognise the extraordinary value of live premium sports,” said Leonsis. “On behalf of our Media Committee and the other team owners, we thank Disney and Turner for their commitment to the NBA and its fans.”

Highlights of the enhanced rights in the deal:

  • An established framework for ESPN and the league to negotiate the launch of a new OTT content offering on the mobile platform. Details will be announced at a later date;

  • 10 additional regular-season games for ESPN or ABC, bringing the regular-season total to 100;

  • 10 more exclusive regular-season windows;

  • Increased team appearances to showcase the most popular teams and most compelling match-ups more times throughout the season;

  • Live, national rights to summer league and D-League games across ESPN entities;

  • As part of the new agreement, ESPN will substantially increase its NBA-focused programming with 750 new hours of NBA content on linear and digital platforms for a significant year-round presence for the league on ESPN;

  • ESPN International, in Latin America, the Caribbean, Australia and New Zealand, will carry significantly more exclusive regular-season and play-off games on ESPN platforms, including expanded weekend windows during the regular season, increased first- and second-round play-off coverage and the NBA conference finals and NBA Finals (including exclusivity in Australia and New Zealand).

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