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Woj Tipping Picks Didn’t Hurt NBA Draft Ratings

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Before last night’s NBA Draft Adrian Wojnarowski, Shams Charania, and others in the NBA insider business were told not to reveal draft picks before they were made on television. The NBA felt the practice hurt the television products.

Woj found ways to dance around saying with certainty what the picks would be, but mostly did his usual Draft Night work on Twitter. It caused a flurry of articles about his brilliance and how he stole the show. One thing he didn’t do was hurt the NBA Draft’s TV product according to Sports Business Daily’s Austin Karp.


Alex Putterman from Awful Announcing weighed in as well, saying that the NBA never really had anything to worry about when it came to how tweeting draft picks before they show up on TV would effect ratings.

NBA Draft ratings have generally risen over the years as the event has become a bigger and bigger production, buttressed by more and more pre-draft content. ESPN took its draft-night coverage to a new level this year, producing two separate broadcasts — a traditional one on ESPN and a talk-show-style version on ESPN2 — to give fans more options, and the initiative apparently paid off.

It certainly couldn’t have hurt Thursday night that the NBA seems to be riding a wave of popularity, coming off a season in which regular-season ratings were up at both the nationaland local level and postseason numbers rose as well (up until the anticlimactic Finals). At this point it seems as though networks could air a live feed of Adam Silver playing Solitaire and at least a few hundred thousand people would watch.

 

Sports TV News

NCAA Tournament Delivers Highest-Rated Round of 64 Ever

“ For the first round on Thursday and Friday of last week, games accomplished a total audience delivery of 9.2 million viewers.”

Jordan Bondurant

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The first two rounds of the 2023 NCAA tournament are in the books, and the TV ratings indicate historic viewership.

For the first round on Thursday and Friday of last week, games accomplished a total audience delivery of 9.2 million viewers. This was for contests on TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV in addition to streaming on March Madness Live.

Action on Thursday averaged 8.4 million, up 2% compared to 2022.

On Friday, game broadcasts averaged 9.3 million, making it the most-watched first round ever.

The Sweet 16 tips off on Thursday this week.

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Sports TV News

John Skipper: All Rights Deals Look Terrible at Beginning, Great by End

“ I always love the people who lost always released statements that said, ‘We refused to do a financially irresponsible deal.’”

Jordan Bondurant

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The NBA will be heading to the negotiating table soon for a new media rights agreement, and it appears almost certain the league will incorporate a streaming element into the deal.

Amazon is believed to be looking to add the NBA to its lineup of live sports offerings. The tech giant is entering the second year of a $1 billion per season deal to be the exclusive home of Thursday Night Football.

The NBA is looking to earn anywhere from $50-75 billion in the next rights deal, almost triple the value of the current deal expiring in 2025.

Talking to David Samson on the podcast Sports Business, Meadowlark Media CEO and former ESPN president John Skipper was asked if he believed the existing packages with ESPN/ABC and Warner Bros. Discovery would triple in value without an Apple or Amazon. Skipper explained that the answer is a bit nuanced.

“No, but they don’t have to for the NBA to triple their national broadcasting revenue,” he said. “I think it’s not a crazy sum to think that they may approach it or they may actually reach it. They’re not going to have two packages when this is over. They’re gonna have at least three. So you don’t have to triple all the packages to triple the money.”

Skipper added that in terms of Warner Bros. Discovery seeming to take the stance of not wanting to overpay for NBA rights, it’s sort of a losing mindset for the competitors out there in the media rights space.

“I don’t think you can get out a spreadsheet and kind of go, ‘OK I don’t need the NBA anymore,'” he said. “Because somebody else is going to pay an exorbitant number. I’m like OK great I hope you continue that practice, because then we’ll have all the rights someday.”

“Rights go up. They look terrible in the beginning, by the end they look great,” Skipper added. “That’s why broadcasters should do long-term deals. I think the NBA will get somewhere between 200-350% more money in this round of deals than they did last time.”

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Sports TV News

Diamond Sports Group Says MLB Streaming Rights Caused Bankruptcy

“The (MLB) Commissioner’s office has made it clear that they want to take back the rights and go it alone, which will effectively drive us out of the market if they are successful.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Diamond Sports Group, the owner of the Bally Sports regional sports networks, told a Texas bankruptcy judge that Major League Baseball’s unwillingness to cut a deal to allow for increased streaming rights was a contributing factor in the company’s bankruptcy.

According to Reuters, Diamond Sports Group’s attorney Andrew Goldman told U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Lopez that the additional streaming rights to bolster Bally Sports+ is pivotal in the company’s business model moving forward. But MLB has made it difficult to gain traction.

“The (MLB) Commissioner’s office has made it clear that they want to take back the rights and go it alone, which will effectively drive us out of the market if they are successful,” Goldman said.

In the eyes of the league, it isn’t on MLB to sort out the issues in RSNs.

“We are dealing with a broken model, and it is not the responsibility of MLB to fix that model,” league attorney James Bromley said.

Bally Sports RSNs will carry on as usual while the bankruptcy process plays out.

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