The new NBA media deals are done — extending contracts with The Walt Disney Company’s ESPN and ABC and Turner Broadcasting’s TNT through the 2015-16 season. The broadcast rights are essentially the same as they have been for the past five years. The most significant change overall is what NBA Commissioner David Stern calls “an additional robust grant of digital rights to enhance the experience of our fans in ways that ESPN, ABC and TNT have done to some small degree with our properties.” One way of measuring that change: during the conference call, Stern was asked by a reporter if the digital rights were worth more than the broadcast rights. His reply: “I can say that they are not, but I can say that they are very valuable because the growth and exploration that is necessary can’t take place without robust grants on the rights — and robust utilization and extension of those rights.” Release.
Each network will be allowed to stream live, delayed and on-demand its own televised games across platforms. For Turner, that’s 52 regular-season games and up to 52 playoff games. ESPN has up to 75 regular-season games and up to 29 playoffs. The digital rights include:
— ESPN/ABC: Enhanced digital rights to have the NBA deliver content for multiple ESPN platforms, including ABC, ESPN, ESPN.com, and ESPN360.com.
— Turner: Enhanced content/digital rights to have the NBA deliver content for multiple Turner and Time Warner platforms, including TNT games simulcast on wireless, broadband, and VOD through TNT Overtime; interactive online elements (selected camera angles, statistic feeds and video); exclusive broadband and other content, including highlights and studio shows, for digital platforms.
— NBA Digital: The league retains digital streaming and on-demand rights to 1,000 or so games. It also appears to have full download rights.
— Rights to platforms yet to be developed with respect to each network’s games. ESPN, for instance, expects to develop 5-10 new platforms during the next nine years.
From the conference call transcript:
David Levy, CEO, TBS: “Over the last few years the media landscape has evolved, and the real opportunity for media companies is how to reach and surround consumers across many touch points in every day life. The way sports has changed the television business, all these digital platforms will have significant impact on the sport marketplace and why this agreement will have even greater significance as we move forward.”
John Skipper, EVP, ESPN: “I would just point out that the exclusivities are relatively to our own games. We have extensive rights that we can exploit on mobile platforms relative to highlights and we have a … right to broadcast our games on any platforms or services we choose and a right to take our news information product across any platform for news service that is we choose. … What we have acknowledged in this deal is that we will probably launch five or ten new platforms during the course of this deal and we are going to work together on those platforms. That’s acknowledged in the deal going forward.”
Levy on new rights: Asked what digital rights are new, he replied: “The rights to simulcast TNT games on additional digital platforms since wireless and broadband and VOD; the distributing content of highlights and studio shows outside of our TimeWarner portfolio, but with limitations of what amounts need to be attached to it as well; the interactive online elements, selected camera angles, statistic feeds, complimentary video, NBA Fantasy game license, just to name a few.”