As the NBA lockout edges closer to the regular season, the financial advantage of the league's national TV contracts begins to come into play. But Sean Deveney of Sporting News reminds us of his July report that puts David Stern's reported threat to cancel the season if a deal isn't reached soon into context.
Deveney reported in July and again on Thursday that NBA only keeps its revenue from ABC/ESPN and TNT -- some $930 million -- so long as games are actually played in 2011-12. If the entire season is missed, the league would have to pay back that revenue to the networks plus interest. Assuming the reports are accurate, that creates a real incentive for the NBA to save the season, even if it means playing fewer than 82 games.
In fact, to get really cynical, it'd be in the NBA's best financial interest -- ignoring long-term impacts of brand damage and concerns for future media contracts -- to lose as many regular season games as possible to save on expenses like player payroll and game production costs, and then put together enough of a season to keep the media revenue.
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