Reports: NBA Agrees to Terms on $76 Billion Media Rights Deal

The NBA has agreed to terms for its new media deal, an 11-year, $76 billion agreement that will ensure player salaries continue to rise for the foreseeable future. The deal will undoubtedly change the way some viewers watch the game in the years to come.

A source familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that the networks have the terms and that the next step is for the league’s board of governors to approve the contracts.

The person spoke to AP anonymously on Wednesday because he was not allowed to talk about such threatening matters.

The deal, which sets NBA records for both length and total value, goes into effect through the 2025-26 season. Games will still air on ESPN and ABC, with some now moving to NBC and Amazon Prime. TNT Sports, which has been part of the league’s broadcast family since the 1980s, could be on its way out but has five days to match either deal.

The five-day period begins once the league sends the completed contracts to TNT.

The Athletic was first to report on the contracts.

In the short term, the deal almost certainly means the league’s salary cap will increase by 10% annually, the maximum allowed under the terms of the most recent collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and its players. That means players like Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dallas’ Luka Doncic could earn around $80 million in the 2030-31 season, and there’s at least some possibility that top players could earn somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 million per season by the mid-2030s.

It also clears the way for the next major item on the NBA’s to-do list: expansion.

Commissioner Adam Silver has been very clear about the order of his top agenda items in recent seasons, namely maintaining peace in the workplace (which was accomplished with the new CBA), securing a new media deal (now essentially complete) and then — and only then — turning the league’s attention to adding new franchises. Las Vegas and Seattle are typically among the cities most prominently mentioned as top candidates for expansion, while other cities such as Montreal, Vancouver and Kansas City, Missouri are also expected to have interest groups.

As the total value of broadcast rights packages has increased over the past 25 years, salaries have also increased because of the share of that revenue stream in the salary cap.

When NBC and Turner agreed to a four-year, $2.6 billion deal that began with the 1998-99 season, the salary cap was $30 million per team and the average salary was around $2.5 million. The average salary this season exceeded $10 million per player — and it’s only going to continue to rise.

When that NBC-Turner deal that began a quarter-century ago expired, the next deal — which covered six seasons — cost ABC, ESPN and Turner about $4.6 billion. The next agreement was a seven-year deal that cost those networks $7.4 billion.

The current deal, which expires next season, broke those records by nine years and nearly $24 billion.

And now that seems like a pittance.

From the deal that began in 1998-99 to the deal that has now closed and begins in 2025, the total value has increased by about 2,800%. Taking into account inflation between then and now, the value has increased by about 1,400%.

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