Barry Diller’s Silver King Broadcasting took a big step toward implementing its business plan in Miami Tuesday by unveiling a five-year broadcast TV rights pact with the NBA’s Miami Heat.
The deal gives Silver King’s Miami outlet, WYHS-TV, broadcast rights to 30-40 Heat games per season, beginning with the 1998-99 NBA season. Silver King has the option of syndicating its Heat games to other Florida TV stations outside the Miami/Fort Lauderdale market.
The Heat’s local broadcast outlet in recent years had been Miami’s UPN affiliate, WBFS-TV. In announcing the new deal Tuesday, the Heat also confirmed a five-year extension of its cable TV rights deal with the Sunshine Network regional sports cabler.
The Heat rights deal was viewed as a coup for Silver King, which plans to transform WYHS next spring from a Home Shopping Network affiliate to an indie outlet revolving around live, locally oriented programming. Having the broadcast TV rights to the local NBA team is sure to raise the station’s profile with both viewers and advertisers.
“This is not just a straight sports rights deal,” said Silver King exec VP Adam Ware. “This is a partnership that will be part of the very fabric of our station.”
Ware said the station will run extensive pre- and post-game shows for every Heat game it televises, including live coverage of Heat coach Pat Riley’s post-game press conferences. The station plans to develop programming around the team and its players during the off-season as well.
Now celebrating its 10th anniversary season, the Miami Heat is owned by Micky Arison, chairman of Carnival Corp., the parent company of Carnival Cruise Lines.