The NBA and its network partners expect to reach an agreement in principle on new long-term media deals by the start of the regular season, according to sources on all sides of the discussions.
Talks have progressed so rapidly that details are emerging on a massive agreement that would see the league’s annual rights fee more than double, with ESPN and Turner combining to pay more than $2 billion per year on average. One source said ESPN already has committed to pay “well over” $1 billion per year, and Turner is not far behind for a media rights extension that would kick in with the 2016-17 season.
As part of the current eight-year deals that end in June 2016, ESPN pays $485 million per year and Turner pays $445 million per year on average, bringing the league’s total take at just less than $1 billion per year.
But that figure would be dwarfed in a new deal that several sources pegged as an eight-year pact, though one source with knowledge of the talks said it ultimately could end up running nine years.
A final deal might not be signed or announced before the new season, but talks with ESPN and Turner are advanced enough that sources said there is little chance the NBA will carve out a third package for another network, like Fox Sports or NBC Sports. ESPN, in particular, has been adamant during negotiations that the NBA not develop a new package to sell to a competitive sports network, sources said.
The NBA cannot talk to other networks until the middle of next year, when ESPN and Turner’s exclusive negotiating window runs out. Barring an unforeseen snag in the ongoing negotiations, all sides expect new deals to be signed well before that happens.
The new agreements are expected to mirror the current ones in many ways. While many believe the league and its TV partners could fashion an agreement by the season opener on Oct. 28 — with a formal announcement likely to come weeks or even months later — several issues are left to be resolved, such as what to do with live streaming rights. The NBA wants to explore the NFL’s model, where streaming rights are sold separately. The NFL sold streaming rights to Verizon as part of a four-year, $1 billion deal that runs through the 2017 season. ESPN and Turner are balking at such a plan, saying that they need streaming rights to the games they produce.
One network source called a separation of those rights a “nonstarter.”
Streaming rights have been part of every TV rights deal (other than in the NFL) for the past several years, and the cable industry’s TV Everywhere streaming push continues to be a priority for networks and distributors.
While the league wants to retain control over its live streaming rights, one source said any new deal will likely include additional digital rights to the networks.
“That includes more video highlights and digital packages,” the source said.
The league and networks have reached broad agreement on several points. ESPN will retain rights to the NBA Finals championship series, which will remain on ABC. Turner will keep its exclusive Thursday night franchise and NBA All-Star Game coverage.
Turner also will continue to manage the NBA’s digital assets, which include NBA TV, NBA League Pass and NBA.com. Over the past 18 months, other properties, such as NASCAR and the PGA Tour, have taken their digital rights back from Turner. But it would be more difficult for the NBA to take its digital rights back since they are combined with NBA TV and with League Pass, the league’s out-of-market package.
The new agreements would represent a coup for NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who viewed the media deals as a top priority when he took over for longtime commissioner David Stern in February.
League and network executives declined to comment, but Silver hinted at the scope of the forthcoming deals at an industry conference in New York last week, saying, “The rights are going to go up, and go up a lot.”
For more visit the Sports Business Journal where this story was originally published
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at [email protected].
Will Boling: Frank Wycheck Was a Nashville Sports Radio Icon
Boling said Wycheck was instrumental in building the city’s fanbase both as a player and a broadcaster on 104.5 The Zone.
Former NFL tight end and 104.5 The Zone host Frank Wycheck died unexpectedly Sunday at his home in Chattanooga. He was 52. His former station honored the longtime Tennessee Titan with a show dedicated to his honor, with Will Boling, Ramon Foster, and Kayla Anderson leading the tribute.
“This one is really tough,” Boling said to open Monday’s program on 104.5 The Zone. “We’re gonna have a show dedicated to Frank, towards his memory, and his legacy as not only a Tennessee Titan but an iconic voice and broadcasting in the city of Nashville,” Boling said as he introduced Monday’s show.
“In a time where sports and professional sports were just starting to catch on, and were starting to build the kind of loyalty and the kind of fandom that we all know now for the Tennessee Titans that you guys showcase every time you interact with us every day, Frank Wycheck was as instrumental towards that as anyone who’s ever worn a Tennessee Titans uniform. Not only for what he did in 11 years on the field but for what he did off the field as well as a broadcaster and as you heard on Titans radio.”
“It is definitely a deep loss here. The Titans radio crew will probably have something later tonight as we broadcast,” said Ramon Foster. “That group was very intimate with him. He was also on the team plane with them, with Titans radio, for years. And just that it’s a tragic event for sure, man. It definitely put a black cloud over the organization city and just fans of the Titans yesterday.”
“I can tell how much he was beloved in this area in the NFL, with the Titans family, just from hearing it from other people,” added Kayla Anderson. “I didn’t even have to be here to know that, so that just says something about who he was and how many lives he impacted.”
The program welcomed Wycheck’s contemporaries, colleagues, and former teammates to the show to remember the longtime player and host. Included on the guest list was Kevin Dyson, who caught Wycheck’s lateral and returned it for a touchdown during the famous “Music City Miracle” play during the 2000 AFC Wild Card Game against the Buffalo Bills.
Rick DiPietro: Blindly Defending Your Position Has Become Part of Our Industry
“Everyone kind of has their take on something and then they spend the entire time, like, they wanna be right.”
Having a take has always been a tent pole of the sports radio industry. However, 98.7 ESPN New York morning host Rick DiPietro doesn’t believe you should have to always stick to your original opinion.
While discussing the play of New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson Monday morning, the DiPietro & Rothenberg host argued that it’s ok for sports hosts and analysts to change their opinion.
The duo pointed to comments from Rex Ryan about Wilson’s play improving each week, which the pair disagreed with.
“You should be thrilled,” Dave Rothenberg said of Ryan. “How can you possibly sit here and say that’s it now and the switch is flipped and away we go?”
“I’m surprised, though. And maybe it’s just the nature of this business now — not probably, it is — where everyone kind of has their take on something and then they spend the entire time, like, they wanna be right,” DiPietro said. “He’s gonna defend this thing to his death. He’s surprised people are blaming the quarterback. How are you surprised?”
Rick DiPietro concluded by noting that the New York market isn’t alone in expecting greatness from the position, pointing to Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, who was booed by home fans last week while the club was 10-2 and played in the Super Bowl a season ago.
Bob Costas: Despite My Baseball Knowledge, I’d Never Want to Run a Franchise
“…I always said, ‘I’m neither interested nor qualified, so forget it.’”
The news of Shohei Ohtani agreeing to terms on a 10-year contract worth $700 million to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers sent the sports world into a frenzy on Saturday afternoon. Bob Costas is aware of the impact this signing – which keeps Ohtani in a major U.S. market – will have on the game of baseball.
Dan Patrick welcomed Costas onto his program on Monday morning to offer his perspectives on the record-breaking contract for the two-way superstar. Costas said that the Dodgers will be able to amortize the $700 million investment, a monetary figure that is a record for the most guaranteed earnings in a professional sports contract. Costas was asked the Angels lack of success and answered questions about the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum selection process as well. By the end of the interview, Patrick wondered whether or not Bob Costas had ever been asked to serve as the general manager of a baseball team.
“No, no, no, no,” Costas replied, “and neither was I ever broached despite all the talk about being Commissioner of baseball, and I always said, ‘I’m neither interested nor qualified, so forget it.’”
Patrick believes that Costas could have been a really good Commissioner had he landed the role. Conversely, Costas does not think himself to be qualified in that the role contains negotiations that require a certain kind of merit and temperament. Rob Manfred has served as the Commissioner of the league for the last nine seasons, and despite criticism from some fans, the game continues to prove a lucrative endeavor and attained bolstered attendance concurrent with rule changes meant to hasten play and augment offensive output last season.
“The analogy I always used was, ‘If you think a particular columnist is astute politically, that doesn’t necessarily mean you think he or she should run for president or be a Supreme Court justice,’” Bob Costas said. “Their role is to offer thoughts and people weigh it for whatever it’s worth. I was a commentator about baseball, not just calling games, but about the state of the game. I even wrote a book about it, and if people appreciated that, well that was my contribution.”
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