UPDATE, 10:36 AM: And now ESPN has weighed in on the deal. On the new digital service, the Disney company says that it has agreed to a “framework” with the NBA “to negotiate the launch of a new over-the-top offering in which the league would receive equity interest.” No details yet.
On the TV side, ESPN’s new agreement gives it 10 additional regular season games (bringing the total to 100) as well as 10 more “exclusive regular-season windows.” The channel promises to “substantially increase its NBA-focused programming” with an additional 750 hours spread across TV and the Internet. It renewed rights for the WNBA. ESPN INternational will offer “significantly more” NBA programming in Latin America, the Caribbean, Australia and New Zealand. Live, national rights for NBA Summer League and NBA D-League. And there’ll be additional games for Spanish language ESPN Deportes Radio, ESPN Deportes, and ESPN Deportes+.
“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,” ESPN President John Skipper says.
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PREVIOUS, 7:15 AM: Turner just unveiled some of its terms in the nine-year extension to the NBA’s pay TV deal. TNT will pick up 12 additional live regular season games each year, for a total of 64. The additional ones will air in the second half of the season, and not on Thursday night. Time Warner’s site the Bleacher Report will have “enhanced digital rights to NBA content” including some TV Everywhere streaming rights for pay TV subscribers. And Turner Sports will continue to manage NBA Digital which includes NBA TV, NBA.com, NBA Mobile, NBA League Pass, and NBADLeague.com.
As for the televised games, beginning in 2016 TNT will offer NBA Opening Night, coverage of NBA All-Star Weekend events (including the NBA All-Star Saturday Night and NBA All-Star Game), and exclusive second second round payoff telecasts as well as one of the Conference Finals.
“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,” TBS President David Levy says.
Separately, Sports Business Daily reports that the NBA could collect $24B from its new nine-year deals with Disney’s ESPN and Turner. ESPN will pay about $1.4B a year, and Turner will account for $1.2B a year. What’s more, the deals prevents others — notably Fox Sports and NBC Sports — from landing a third package.
PREVIOUS, 6:01 AM: The new contract runs through the 2024-2025 season, and will cost the companies about twice as much as they currently pay — now about $485M a year for Disney (at ESPN and ABC) and $445M for Turner (at TNT) — The Wall Street Journal reports. A formal announcement to extend the current deals, which expire in 2016, is expected today.
But the most intriguing twist is that the NBA will partner with ESPN to create an online service that will stream live games during the regular season, including to people who don’t subscribe to pay TV. The Journal’s sources didn’t know, or wouldn’t discuss, how many games will be offered and how consumers might access the service. It could require a subscription, payments for each game someone wants to stream, or it might be offered to wireless video services such as the one that Verizon is creating. Disney also has a carriage deal with Dish Network’s planned Internet video service.
The development may raise some eyebrows if it encourages pay TV subscribers to cancel their cable or satellite video services. Disney has steadfastly defended the current structure that requires subscribers to pay for channels that they don’t watch; a big deal for ESPN which collects about $6 a month for customers who don’t enjoy sports. But the Journal notes that ESPN considers the online service to be important because “that package of games otherwise could have been sold to a third party.”
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