The NBA has concerns that TNT and ESPN may want to renegotiate their current contracts if next season begins later than the proposed Dec. 22 start date, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
The league has a nine-year deal with both networks (as well as ABC) that’s worth $24 billion and runs through the 2024-25 season.
As reported earlier, the players union is expected to hold a vote Thursday or Friday on when next season will begin. The other option is Jan. 18.
At first, the league was aiming to wait a little longer in the calendar year in an effort to have fans return to home markets. But the resulting financial losses apparently would be too steep.
And as both the league and its broadcast partners learned this past season, NBA games simply will not fare well when televised late in the summer or when going up against the NFL. For instance, this year’s Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat suffered the lowest TV ratings in league history.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, a 72-game season would result if Dec. 22 is indeed determined as the start date. But tipping off Jan. 18 would shorten the regular season to 60 games.