The NBA wants to triple the value of its media rights — and hopes a midseason tournament will spice up the package.
The league is drawing inspiration from European soccer as it outlines the midseason contest.
- Current discussions revolve around an eight-team tournament with three single-elimination rounds.
- Players would be incentivized with a reward of $1 million per player on the winning team.
- The WNBA is piloting the concept this season with a $500,00 prize pool. The tournament will be sponsored by Google and broadcast by Amazon.
On the cusp of its next set of broadcast deals, the NBA is targeting a $75 billion price tag over nine years, an impressive leap from the $24 billion in deals it’s currently locked into with Disney and WarnerMedia. The league is also in the midst of a five-year, $1.5 billion deal with Tencent to stream games in China.
NBA broadcasts on ABC, ESPN, and TNT averaged 1.32 million viewers this season, down 25% from the 1.75 million average of the 2018-2019 season.
A midseason tournament could raise the stakes and help reverse that downward trend, but the league will need buy-ins from 20 of its 30 teams and the NBPA to proceed. This year’s play-in tournament — another format experiment — was a runaway ratings success.
However, teams are wary of trimming the regular season to 78 games from 82 to accommodate the midseason contest. Pre-pandemic regular season games each brought in $2.5-$4 million for the home team.