As the National Football League cashes in with TV contracts worth $100 billion and the Big Ten conference nears media rights deals worth $1 billion per year, the NBA is now looking to get its share with upcoming contract negotiations.
After witnessing television ratings dip in recent years, viewership for the NBA Playoffs is soaring once again. The first round of the playoffs on ESPN averaged 3.35 million viewers, a 21% increase from 2021 and the most-watch postseason since 2014.
Interest in the sport is spiking across the board. As noted by Anthony Puccio of Front Office Sports, viewership for the regular season increased 19%, NBA League Pass saw a 30% boost in subscriptions and social media interest rose significantly.
Adam Silver and team owners are very aware of the upward trajectory. With Disney (ESPN/ABC) and Turner Sports shelling out hundreds of millions of dollars for the NFL, MLB and college football, the National Basketball Association is next.
According to CNBC’s Jabari Young, the NBA is seeking $75 billion total from Turner Sports and ESPN in its upcoming media rights contracts. It would almost triple the current total ($24 billion), which generates $2.6 billion per year in national TV revenue.
While both networks might find the price tag jarring, it’s also becoming the cost of doing business. ESPN, ABC and TNT all saw stellar improvements in viewership this season for their programming tied to the NBA. In order to keep that going, it’s going to come at a much higher cost.
Impact of new media rights deal on NBA players
There should also be plenty of confidence that a deal will get worked out. Given the increased salary cap for next season, it seems owners and league executives are already anticipating more revenue coming in the next several years.
Naturally, players will also feel the impact of this. Max contracts for some of the league’s biggest stars will rise, providing elite talent with an opportunity to sign historic contracts. It will also boost salaries for veteran players and draft picks in the years ahead should also see increases in their annual income.
Just two years shy of the league falling $1.5 billion short of its revenue projections due to the COVID-19 pandemic and conflict with China, things have dramatically improved. It bodes well for the future of the sport, especially at a time when the playoffs are featuring young stars who are emerging as the new faces of the NBA.