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NBA triples rights fees in US$24 billion deal

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has unveiled a new domestic TV rights agreement worth almost three times the amount of its last deal.

6 October 2014 James Emmet

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has unveiled a new domestic TV rights agreement worth almost three times the amount of its last deal.

The league has agreed to extend its rights deals with Disney and Turner for their ABC, ESPN and TNT networks.

The new arrangement will last for nine seasons, until 2025, and is worth US$24 billion, or US$2.67 billion a year. Both broadcasters will receive expanded TV, radio and digital rights. ABC and ESPN will enjoy coverage of ten additional games a season, while Turner will have a further 12 games. ABC will remain the exclusive home of NBA Finals coverage.

Disney's agreement includes scope for ESPN to collaborate with the NBA on the launch of a new digital channel, with both parties holding an equity interest, while an extra 750 hours of NBA programming are planned on ESPN's TV and digital platforms each year. TNT will air a new end-of-season awards show, while the Turner-owned Bleacher Report website will carry exclusive NBA content.

ESPN's WNBA rights agreement has been extended to 2025, with a new element allowing for in-progress highlights of all games on traditional and digital platforms. The channel will also screen exclusively live coverage of NBA Summer League and NBA D-League games.

“The Walt Disney Company and Turner Broadcasting share responsibility for the growing popularity and interest the NBA enjoys, and we are thrilled to extend our partnerships,” said NBA commissioner Adam Silver. “With these new agreements, our fans will continue to benefit from the outstanding NBA coverage and programming provided by ABC, ESPN, TNT, NBA TV and their digital platforms.”

“The NBA has never been more popular and it continues to grow under Adam’s leadership,” said ESPN president John Skipper. “By acquiring significantly more NBA content for both existing and yet-to-be created platforms, we will establish a vibrant, year-round NBA presence for fans. For ESPN, this agreement continues our fruitful, longstanding relationship with the NBA and bolsters what is already the sports industry’s most impressive and impactful collection of media rights.”

Turner Broadcasting System president David Levy added: “This is a significant deal for our company and we are pleased to continue our long-standing partnership with the NBA, its fans, owners and players.

“The agreement locks in some of the most valuable, original, premium live sports programming that we'll continue to monetize across TNT and all other platforms within our extensive portfolio and will help further grow our businesses into the next decade.”

The NBA currently makes US$930 million a year in domestic media rights fees: US$485 million from Disney, and US$445 million from Turner.

The new settlement was reported by the Wall Street Journal ahead of the formal announcement.

The new NBA season, which falls under the existing broadcast agreements, begins on 28th October.

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