Adweek reports that the NBA Lockout could turn into a huge mess for ESPN and TNT, which broadcast the games. In fact, ESPN/ABC and TNT could end up being out as much as $1.25 billion.
ESPN/ABC Sports and TNT stand to lose as much as $1.25 billion in ad sales revenue if the labor dispute negates the entire 2011-12 NBA campaign. Indeed, the NBA audience has become so valuable that the postseason inventory alone accounts for nearly a fifth of the full-season take.
Adweek points out that, obviously, these costs come in addition to the money the NBA itself will lose in tickets and merchandise. Also, this doesn't include local TV rights, which will be affected as well.
The NBA claims that the outgoing collective bargaining agreement has caused its teams to bleed money, and needs to be changed. Any lockout that ends up causing the NBA to shorten its season, though, would not only cause the NBA to lose even more money in the short term, but could cause damage to the league's reputation could take quite a while to repair.