FREE | NBA Data Report, 2019

In the latest interactive monthly data report, SportBusiness Media analyses the media-rights landscape of the NBA.

Further detail on the deals covered in this interactive data report is available with our Rights Tracker tool – click here for more information.

Global gain

According to the 2018 SportBusiness Consulting Global Report, media rights in the NBA generated $3.9bn (€3.4bn) in 2018, accounting for about 92.2 per cent of basketball’s market share and 8 per cent of global sport’s market share.

After a huge increase in 2017, when the impact of the NBA’s new domestic agreements was felt for a full calendar year for the first time, the NBA’s value remained relatively flat in 2018, increasing by just over 2 per cent to $3.95bn from $3.86bn.

The NBA has seen a compound annual growth rate of 16.8 per cent since 2014 according to the same report.

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Domestic dominance

Under the current domestic deal, from 2016-17 to 2024-25, with media groups Disney and Turner Broadcasting, the NBA earns between $2.6bn (€2.1bn) and $2.7bn per season.

Disney will pay at least $1.4bn per season and Turner at least $1.2bn per season. Disney’s greater fee represents the inclusion of radio and international rights. Its deal also includes an extension to WNBA rights until 2024-25.

The new deals represent an increase of about 185 per cent on the previous amount the two paid for domestic rights, from 2008-09 to 2015-16, when Disney paid about $485m per season and Turner about $445m per season.

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As part of the current agreement, Turner shows 64 regular-season games on its TNT channel, up from 52 in the previous cycle. It manages the NBA’s digital assets, including the League Pass out-of-market subscription service and It also manages the NBA TV channel, which shows at least 100 regular-season games, up from 96 in the previous cycle.

Disney show 85 regular-season games (up from 70) on its ESPN channels, and 15 games on ABC. It also broadcasts at least 20 NBA Development and Summer League games.

NBA teams are each also able to agree separate deals for regional rights, which contribute to the overall domestic value of NBA. In the SportBusiness Consulting estimate, the value of the NBA teams’ regional sports network contracts rose by about 8.5 per cent in 2018 to $942m from about $868m.

International highs and lows

China is the most lucrative international media-rights market for the NBA. The rights-holder’s revenues more than doubled in 2015 after signing a significant deal with streaming service Tencent.

Tencent’s current digital deal with the NBA, from 2015-16 to 2019-20, initially included a share of advertising and commercial revenue. The deal was expanded in summer 2016 to integrate the NBA’s international League Pass, allowing Tencent to show every NBA game.

The NBA has also agreed a linear deal with state broadcaster CCTV, further enhancing its revenue from China.

Previously, the NBA sold rights to CCTV (from 2012-13 to 2014-15), satellite broadcaster Chongqing Satellite TV and a patchwork of regional broadcasters in multi-year deals. CCTV’s deal is thought to be worth at least 23 per cent of the total that the NBA earned per season in China from its linear broadcast and digital deals.

Along with linear rights, the NBA also earned a considerable sum from mobile rights. Chinese IPTV operator BesTV has held these rights since 2013-14. Its current deal, from 2016-17 to 2019-20 is about a 475-per-cent increase on the amount it paid in the previous cycle, from 2013-14 to 2015-16. The deal allows coverage of NBA games via BesTV’s mobile apps.

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The second-most valuable international deal to the NBA is in Japan. The NBA’s five-season deal with Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten, from 2017-18 to 2021-22. The deal spans media and merchandising rights, as well as exclusive rights to carry the NBA’s League Pass OTT service on its own Rakuten TV video-on-demand service.

But the NBA has run into problems with two of its more lucrative international deals in Sub-Saharan Africa and Hong Kong.

Telco Econet’s aggressive entry into sub-Saharan Africa initially benefited the NBA after it acquired English-, French- and Portuguese-language rights, from 2016-17 to 2020-21. This was an increase in value of about 264 per cent on the rights in the previous cycle.

However, in November 2018, Econet closed its pay-television platform Kwesé due to unmanageable debts owed to rights-holders. It has since agreed a repayment plan with major rights-holders including the NBA. It is understood to involve a 15-per-cent down-payment followed by a series of payments with a final payment in August 2019.

In Hong Kong, the NBA signed a five-season deal in 2016 with OTT player LeSports HK, from 2016-17 to 2020-21. This was an increase in value of more than 500 per cent on the previous deal with telco PCCW.

However, in March 2018, LeSports HK went into liquidation.

The NBA offered complimentary access to the NBA League Pass for the remainder of the 2017-18 season. Digital content service provider Migu, a subsidiary of telco China Mobile, bought the live rights in Hong Kong from 2018-19 in a multi-platform, multi-year deal. The deal also includes highlights and ancillary content in China. The NBA also struck a deal with pioneering sports broadcaster Sports 2 World in a multi-year partnership including live games and programming.