ESPN and Turner reach nine-year deals with NBA

LeBron James, Shawn Marion
Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James with Shawn Marion in a preseason exhibition basketball game.
(Mark Duncan / Associated Press)

The National Basketball Assn. has renewed its contracts with ESPN and Turner Broadcasting for nine years, the networks said on Monday.

Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed, but a person familiar with the contracts said the NBA will receive a combined $24 billion over nine years, as first reported in a New York Times story, nearly tripling the yearly average under the current arrangement that expires after the 2015-16 season.

Under the existing agreements, ESPN has been paying the NBA $485 million a year, while Turner has paid $445 million annually, for a combined $930 million a year.

A breakdown for the two new deals wasn’t available, but ESPN will continue to pay more than Turner for its package, people familiar with the negotiations said.

The new contracts will take effect at the start of the 2016-17 basketball season and run through the 2024-25 season and offer enhanced rights for the networks.

Turner’s TNT network will add 12 regular season games a year to its schedule, raising its package to 64 regular season games a year.

Ten additional regular season games will air on ESPN or sister broadcast channel ABC each year, bringing their total to 100. ESPN, which is owned by the Walt Disney Co., said it and the NBA plan to launch a digital network, but declined to give further details.

Turner already runs NBA League Pass, a subscription service that carries live basketball games online. It also owns the sports website Bleacher Report.  

The latest deals illustrate the increasing amounts television companies are willing to pay for live sports, which is a significant driver of ratings.

Last week, DirecTV agreed to pay the National Football League $1.5 billion a year for eight years to continue offering its NFL Sunday Ticket satellite TV package.

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