NBA agrees to terms on 11-year, $76 billion media rights deal, AP source says

The NBA has agreed to terms for its new media deal, a record 11-year, $76 billion agreement that should ensure player salaries continue to rise for the foreseeable future and will undoubtedly change the way some viewers watch the game in the years to come.

A source familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that the networks have the terms and that the next step is for the league’s board of governors to approve the contracts.

The person spoke to AP anonymously on Wednesday because he was not allowed to talk about such threatening matters.

Next week, the board of governors is meeting in Las Vegas to coincide with the NBA Summer League, and it seems likely that the deals – if they pass various committees and receive other approvals – could be completed around that time.

The NBA did not comment Wednesday.

The deal, which sets NBA records for both length and total value, goes into effect through the 2025-26 season. Games will still air on ESPN and ABC, with some now moving to NBC and Amazon Prime. TNT Sports, which has been part of the league’s broadcast family since the 1980s, could be on its way out but has five days to match either deal.

The five-day period begins once the league sends the completed contracts to TNT.

The Athletic was first to report on the contracts.

ESPN and ABC will continue to carry the league’s best package, which includes the NBA Finals and one of the conference finals series. ABC has aired the NBA Finals since 2003. ABC would continue to air games on Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons when the NFL regular season ends.

ESPN’s main evenings were still on Wednesdays, with some games on Friday and Sunday.

Finals exclusivity comes with a hefty price hike. The Walt Disney Company, which owns ESPN and ABC, will pay $2.6 billion a year under the new contract, up from $1.4 billion in the current deal.

The return of NBC, which broadcast NBA games from 1990 to 2002, gives the league two network affiliates for the first time.

NBC — whose deal is expected to be worth $2.5 billion per season — would air games on Sunday nights after the NFL season ends. It will air games on Tuesdays during the regular season, while a Monday night package of games would be streamed exclusively on Peacock.

Prime Video would have games on Thursday nights after it finishes airing NFL games. The other nights would be Friday and Saturday.

NBC and Prime Video would take turns airing the other conference finals. Prime Video’s rights would average $1.8 billion per year.

TNT Sports is paying $1.4 billion per season. Given the sums of the three proposed packages, the Prime Video rights would be the one it would likely try to match.

The length of the deals — he did not specifically confirm the 11-year agreement — are “good for the stability of the league,” Silver said during the NBA Finals last month.

“But it does mean, to some extent, you’re trying to predict the future, which is obviously impossible,” Silver said in June. “So part of it is a bet on the partners that we’re ultimately going to work with and their ability to also adapt to the times and their willingness to continue to invest in media and also go global, which, as I said earlier, is also very important to the league.”

In the short term, the deal almost certainly means the league’s salary cap will increase by 10% annually — the maximum allowed under the terms of the most recent collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and its players. That means players like Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dallas’ Luka Doncic could earn around $80 million in the 2030-31 season, and there’s at least some possibility that top players could earn somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 million per season by the mid-2030s.

It also clears the way for the next major item on the NBA’s to-do list: expansion.

Silver has been very clear about the order of his top agenda items in recent seasons, namely maintaining peace in the workplace (which was accomplished with the new CBA), getting a new media deal (now essentially complete) and then and only then would the league turn its attention to adding new franchises. Las Vegas and Seattle are typically among the cities most prominently mentioned as top candidates for expansion, while other cities such as Montreal, Vancouver and Kansas City are also expected to have interest groups.

As the total value of broadcast rights packages has increased over the past 25 years, so have salaries due to the large portion of the revenue stream that ultimately funds the salary cap.

When NBC and Turner agreed to a four-year, $2.6 billion deal that began with the 1998-99 season, the salary cap was $30 million per team and the average salary was around $2.5 million. The average salary this season exceeded $10 million per player — and it’s only expected to rise.

When that NBC-Turner deal that began a quarter-century ago expired, the next deal — covering six seasons — cost ABC, ESPN and Turner about $4.6 billion. The next was a seven-year deal that cost those networks $7.4 billion.

The current deal, which expires next season, broke those records: nine years, nearly $24 billion.

And now that seems like a pittance.



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