As the NBA prepares to enter negotiations for a new television contract, the league has several questions to answer before it gets into a handshake mode with its media partners.
Here are some of the hurdles the NBA has to clear before starting talks with its existing partners ESPN and Turner Sports and perhaps with Fox and NBC.
- How long will the new contract last?
- Will the NBA take back its digital rights? They’re currently managed by Turner and might be reluctant to give them up.
- Will the league open a third TV package to either Fox or NBC? Fox would love to enter the professional basketball business with games on Fox Sports 1. NBC would not mind a return to the NBA as long as it does not interfere with its NHL schedule.
- Could the NBA go Over The Top like the NFL and WWE with some programming?
- And could the NBA on TNT move to another night?
Now let’s think about that. The NBA has aired on TNT in its current incarnation dating back to 2002. But as the NFL has expanded to Thursday nights, football has eaten into TNT’s ratings.
Sports Business Journal reports that one consideration for the NBA would be to move TNT’s doubleheader to another night to avoid competing with Thursday Night Football, especially with CBS taking half of the NFL package this coming season.
When TNT began airing the NBA, the games were played on multiple nights including Tuesdays. Could that be the new night for TNT? Currently, Tuesdays are reserved for NBA TV’s Fan Night where fans vote for the game they want the league-owned channel to showcase.
This is not etched in stone, but it’s an indication that new commissioner Adam Silver has a lot of thinking to do before he opens up the contract talks. Whatever happens, the NBA’s owners will be lining their pockets as the networks will be willing to pay a pretty penny for the rights.