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Impact of NBA Media Deal

November 4, 2014
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Lots of discussion about it. The impact on cable costs to consumers. Whether money was left on the table.

Simply put, the NBA’s current media deal is groundbreaking in the same way its last media deal was—both setting new benchmarks in the media world. Last time, the NBA ushered in the move from an “exclusive” Network only deal to a “hybrid” media/cable deal including ESPN (Disney) and Turner (TNT). This resulted in increased coverage across multiple platforms that did not exist previously.

The latest NBA media deal is a milestone for the world of “new media” by re-upping with those same partners but commanding an astonishing price. The reason for this dramatic increase is that so many new forms of media and communication are incorporated into the deal—from traditional broadcast to “over the top” to every platform of social media and communication. The increase in media consumption over the last 10 years has been dramatic and sports content sits at the top of the list when it comes to that increase.

Everything now should be measured in terms of “share of attention”—and that’s not just limited to TV viewership (cable viewers). The NBA has an enormous social following—and that share of attention is what justifies the huge increase in rights fees. Could NBA have gotten more as Tim Leiweke says—by giving Facebook and Google a shot at “bidding”. I’m not so sure after speaking with some top media executives. Bottom line, ESPN and Turner were willing to pay whatever Commissioner Adam Silver asked—and his asking price really stretched the boundaries of what is economically justifiable for these rights. In the end, loyalty and good business prevailed and a seemingly great deal was struck for all long term partners.


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Leonard Armato is a visionary, celebrity brand builder, and expert in music as an engine for brands. Follow Leonard on Twitter: @LeonardArmato or on Instagram: LeonardArmato

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