Photo by Lucy Nicholson—Reuters
By John Kell
October 6, 2014

The National Basketball Association has reportedly reached long-term media rights deals with two networks that would more than double the fees it received under the previous contracts.

ESPN majority-owner Walt Disney (DIS) and Time Warner (TWX) signed contracts with the league that would give them the rights to NBA games through the 2024-25 season, The Wall Street Journal and other media outlets reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The prior deals were set to expire after the 2015-16 season.

Disney and Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting had each been paying under $500 million a year under their existing contracts, though WSJ reports the new contracts will be worth “at least twice” as much as those earlier deals. The league is also reportedly planning a partnership with ESPN for a new online video service that would show live regular season games.

The more lucrative media rights deal comes at a time of strength for the sport. ESPN touted a number of ratings records earlier this year around the timing of the NBA finals. Consumer demand for basketball footwear jumped 20% in 2013, also highlighting the league’s popularity as more consumers put on basketball shoes as part of their everyday street wear attire.

But to keep things in perspective, the NBA’s deal doesn’t even come close to what the National Football League can command when its broadcasting television rights come up for renewal. In 2011, the three networks that air football games reportedly agreed to pay roughly $3 billion a year on average. Factoring in other media deals, and the NFL teams were expected to split nearly $7 billion in media money beginning this year, according to Forbes.


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