Skip to main content

NBA would lose $900 million in TV revenue if playoffs are canceled

Vincent Frank

The NBA is well past the point of believing fans could be in attendance if the season were to resume at some point this summer.

The 2019-20 campaign has been suspended since March 11 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this, there’s a ton of confidence that the Association could return in some form come July.

If this weren’t to happen, the NBA itself is looking at a tremendous loss of revenue. According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, that includes a whopping $900 million in television revenue for the playoffs alone.

Throughout the various conference calls NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has held, one thing has become clear. The league is planning on resuming the season in a campus-like atmosphere. Walt Disney World in Orlando and the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada have been bandied about as possible locations.

While this would come without fans in attendance, the $900 million the NBA would gain in revenue by the playoffs taking place is no small thing.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban just recently opened up about this possibility, indicating that he believes some regular-season games would have to be played before the playoffs start. That’s obviously part of the plan. It would also create more revenue for the NBA.

The larger-scale issue for the NBA outside of basic economics is how the logistics might work relating to the season resuming. It’s been noted on multiple occasions that widespread testing would need to be available to the players, team personnel and families on hand in a “bubble city.”

The issue here is not that the NBA lacks an ability to conduct widespread tests. Rather, it’s all about the lack of widespread COVID-19 testing available to the general public.

“We can get mass testing,” one general manager told The Athletic. “But they don’t want to do that right now because there are parts of the country that still can’t get it.”

That’s the PR aspect of this all. Adam Silver and Co. have maintained a balance between the almighty dollar, public safety and the perception of resuming the season while the United States remains the epicenter of the pandemic.

As Amick noted, “It’s a delicate balancing act for Silver, this unenviable task of planning for a possible end to the season while showing the proper sensitivity for this situation that is so much bigger than basketball.”