The National Basketball Assn. has extended its contract with ESPN, ABC and TNT for a record eight years, through the 2015-16 season, stressing a whole batch of new rights beyond broadcast and cable, including Internet, cell phones and video on demand.
NBA commissioner David Stern said that despite record low ratings for the NBA Finals on ABC earlier this month, Disney (ESPN and ABC) and Turner (TNT) combined will fork over more money to the league each year than the annual combined license fee of $767 million in the current deal, which expires after the 2007-08 season. But Stern declined to reveal the amount of the increase.
All of the parties stressed the new contract’s digital expansion.
“All of the wireless and broadband rights we get will end up making a significant impact on the sports marketplace,” said David Levy, president of Turner Sports.
In terms of broadcast and cable, the new contract will follow the current one, with only minor differ-ences. Each year, TNT will cablecast 52 regular-season games in primetime and 52 playoffs games, includ-ing exclusive coverage of one of the conference finals each year in rotation with ESPN and ABC. TNT also gets the NBA All-Star Game each year exclusively.
ABC continues to broadcast a minimum of 15 regular-season games a year beginning on Christmas Day and a minimum of 15 post-season contests, including exclusive coverage of the NBA Finals. ESPN and ESPN 2 will cablecast to 75 regular-season games a year, mostly on Wednesday and Friday night, and 29 playoff games.