When the new NBA media rights deal was announced, it was not a surprise that ESPN and Turner renewed their deals for billions of dollars. As we looked further into the details, we noted that much of the status quo would remain. ESPN/ABC would stay as the home of the Finals. Turner would still maintain NBA TV and its digital properties plus TNT would continue its weekly Thursday night doubleheaders.
There were some changes. Both ESPN and TNT would receive additional regular season games. ESPN would add year-round studio programming. Turner would get digital rights for the Bleacher Report and both would also receive increased streaming rights.
But the one feature that escaped many observers until now was the fact that both ESPN and Turner will get to share in the sale of ads on game jerseys. According to Sports Business Journal, both networks lobbied to sell the ads, but the NBA refused to relent reserving those rights to the teams. However, Turner did manage to get permission to sell corporate advertising for All-Star Game jerseys which will continue to be aired exclusively on TNT. That will begin in the 2016-17 season when the new TV contract starts.
ESPN did discuss the potential of selling advertising for Finals jerseys, but an agreement could not be reached on that issue.
While it’s not known how much ESPN and Turner will share in the jersey ad revenue, the conventional wisdom is that a national sponsor could fetch more money than a local sponsor.
ESPN and TNT did manage to seal deals in which they can sell sponsorships making certain events like Opening Night or holiday games into bigger entities allowing them to draw more money.
As the networks spend more money on rights, they look for ways to make their revenue back through creative sponsorships. Look for networks to put their unique stamps on the NBA and with future media rights deals from now on.