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Turner Deepens Ties With NBA

Jan 17, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Turner Broadcasting System expanded its relationship with the National Basketball Association, assuming responsibility for programming and marketing the NBA TV cable channel and hosting and operating the league’s Web businesses, including NBA.com.
“We think the best way to optimize our suite of digital and television assets in the U.S. is with a media company that can provide us with the scale, expertise and resources to enhance and grow these properties,” said Adam Silver, deputy commissioner and COO of the NBA.
NBA TV has had only limited distribution since its launch, reaching 15 million U.S. homes. Without a link to either a cable operator or another major player in the TV industry for leverage, it was relegated to cable sports tiers when it was carried at all.
Other independent networks, such as the NFL Network and the Big Ten Network (which is distributed by Fox) have also found it difficult to get the wide coverage Turner and the NBA will be seeking.
NBA Commissioner David Stern said the league and Turner will be approaching cable operators with what he called a new value proposition. Part of the plan will be to lower the fee the network has been seeking, which is about 30 cents per subscriber.
“Within 18 months, we expect to see significant distribution growth for NBA TV,” Mr. Stern said on a conference call.
Mr. Levy described the arrangement as a profit-sharing partnership.
“We see substantial upside for both partners in the new agreement,” he said on a conference call.
Turner had owned a 2 percent stake in NBA TV, equity that will revert back to the NBA.
As part of the deal, which begins next season and runs through 2015-2016, the venture will be jointly managed by Mr. Silver and David Levy, president of Turner Broadcasting Sales. They will be appointing a general manager responsible for NBA digital businesses.
Turner will also be operating NBA League Pass, the league’s out-of-market game package.
Turner, which will run the NBA’s mobile content distribution business, will join the league in cooperatively selling advertising for all of the digital assets.
Turner on air talent will appear on NBA TV.
NBA Entertainment will continue to provide content for all of the NBA’s digital businesses. It had been responsible for programming the cable channel.
“This expansion of the longstanding programming relationship between our company and the NBA represents a new strategic business model, and an innovative template for growth,” said Mr. Levy. “Turner Broadcasting’s operation of NBA Digital expands the growing Turner digital portfolio and provides the NBA industry-leading digital resources and expertise with which to grow its brand.”
Turner Sports already runs Web sites for NASCAR and the PGA Tour.
(Updated 9:25 a.m. Editor: Baumann)

7 Comments

  1. Check out Silver’s quote. Thanksalot, Adam….

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