National Basketball Association on television
As one of the major sports leagues in North America, the National Basketball Association has a long history of partnership with television networks in the US. The League signed a contract with DuMont in its 8th season (1953-54), marking the first year the NBA had a national television broadcaster. Similar to NFL, the lack of television stations leads to NBC taking over the rights beginning the very next season until April 7, 1962 - NBC's first tenure with the NBA. After the deal expired, Sports Network Incorporated (later known as the Hughes Television Network) signed up for two-year coverage in the 1962-63, 1963-64 season. ABC gained the NBA in 1964, the network aired its first NBA game on January 3, 1965, but lost the broadcast rights to CBS after the 1972-73 season with the initial tenure ending on May 10, 1973. As the national broadcaster of the NBA, CBS aired NBA games from the 1973-74 until the 1989-90 season, during which the early 1980s is notoriously known as the tape delay playoff era.
NBC then succeeded the broadcast rights from 1990 to 2002. During NBC's partnership with the NBA in the 1990s, the league rose to unprecedented popularity, with ratings surpassing the days of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird in the mid 1980s. Upon expiration of the contract in 2002, the league signed an agreement with ABC, which began airing games in the 2002-03 season. NBC had made a four-year $1.3 billion ($330 million/year) bid in the spring of 2002 to renew its NBA rights, but the league instead went to ESPN and ABC with a six-year deal worth $2.4 billion ($400 million/year), a total of $4.6 billion ($766 million/year) when adding the cable deal with Turner Sports. Partially due to the retirement of Michael Jordan, the league sufferd ratings decline after ESPN and ABC took over the rights. NBA extended its national TV package on June 27, 2007 worth eight-year $7.4 billion ($930 million/year) through 2015-16 season, during which the league had its new resurgence leading by renewed Celtics–Lakers rivalry and LeBron James. On October 6, 2014, NBA announced a nine-year $24 billion ($2.7 billion/year) extension with ESPN, ABC and Turner Sports beginning with the 2016-17 season and running through the 2024-25 season - the second most expensive media rights in the world after NFL and on a par with Premier League in annual rights fee from 2016-17 to 2018-19 season.
NBA entered the cable territory in 1979 when USA Network signed a three-year $1.5 million deal and extended for two years until the 1983-84 season, ESPN also had a brief affair with NBA from 1982 to 1984. Turner Sports obtained rights to air NBA games beginning with the 1984-85 season (replacing ESPN and USA Network as national cable partners) under a four-year deal, in which TBS shared the NBA television package along with CBS. In the summer of 1987, Turner Broadcasting System signed a new joint broadcast contract between TBS and TNT to split broadcast NBA games starting from the 1988-89 season. TNT held rights to broadcast the NBA draft, most NBA regular season and playoff games, while TBS only aired single games or doubleheaders once a week. The 2001-02 season would mark the final year of regular NBA coverage on TBS, Turner Sports signed a new NBA television contract in which TNT would assume rights to the company's NBA package while TBS would discontinue game coverage altogether. In recent years however, TBS has served as an overflow feed during the playoffs while also simulcast both 2015 and 2016 All-Star Game. Subsequently ESPN regained the NBA in 2002-03 season and took over TBS's half of cable television rights.
|2011-12 (lockout shortened)||ABC||3.3|
|1998-99 (lockout shortened)||NBC||4.3|
|2011-12 (lockout shortened)||5.42M||2.50M||1.86M||0.34M|
Games on Christmas Day have drawn some of the biggest regular season audience. Since 2001, the most watched Christmas games were:
|Year||Network||# of Games||Rating||Viewership|
|2014||ABC, ESPN, TNT||5||2.8||5.22M|
|2011 (lockout shortened)||ABC, ESPN, TNT||5||3.5||6.31M|
|2008||ABC, ESPN, TNT||5||2.5||4.43M|
The NBA All-Star Game was on broadcast networks until 2002, TNT began airing the All-Star Game in 2003 which featured the last appearance of Michael Jordan in the event, TBS started simulcasting the game since 2015.
|2016||TNT||Oklahoma City Thunder vs Golden State Warriors WCF Game 7||8.9||16.00M|
|2012||ESPN||Boston Celtics vs Miami Heat ECF Game 7||7.7||13.35M|
|2013||TNT||Indiana Pacers vs Miami Heat ECF Game 7||7.1||11.57M|
|2011||TNT||Miami Heat vs Chicago Bulls ECF Game 1||6.2||11.11M|
|2012||ESPN||Miami Heat vs Boston Celtics ECF Game 6||6.8||11.07M|
|2012||ESPN||Miami Heat vs Boston Celtics ECF Game 4||6.8||11.07M|
|2011||TNT||Chicago Bulls vs Miami Heat ECF Game 3||6.4||10.89M|
|2016||TNT||Golden State Warriors vs Oklahoma City Thunder WCF Game 6||6.2||10.81M|
|2011||TNT||Miami Heat vs Chicago Bulls ECF Game 5||6.4||10.41M|
|2012||ESPN||Boston Celtics vs Miami Heat ECF Game 5||6.3||10.25M|
|2016||Cleveland Cavaliers vs Golden State Warriors Game 7||15.8/29||31.02M|
|2010||Boston Celtics vs Los Angeles Lakers Game 7||15.6/27||28.20M|
|2013||San Antonio Spurs vs Miami Heat Game 7||15.3/26||26.32M|
|2011||Dallas Mavericks vs Miami Heat Game 6||13.3/23||23.88M|
|2015||Golden State Warriors vs Cleveland Cavaliers Game 6||13.4/24||23.25M|
|2004||Los Angeles Lakers vs Detroit Pistons Game 5||13.8/23||21.84M|
|2015||Cleveland Cavaliers vs Golden State Warriors Game 5||11.8/21||20.86M|
|2016||Golden State Warriors vs Cleveland Cavaliers Game 6||11.8/22||20.70M|
|2013||San Antonio Spurs vs Miami Heat Game 6||12.3/21||20.64M|
|2016||Cleveland Cavaliers vs Golden State Warriors Game 5||11.8/21||20.53M|
- List of current National Basketball Association broadcasters
- National Football League on television
- Major League Baseball television contracts
- National Hockey League on television
- Major League Soccer on television
- John Lombardo & John Ourand (October 13, 2014). "Fast break: NBA media rights". SportsBusiness Daily. Retrieved June 17, 2016.
- Paulsen (October 6, 2014). "NBA Announces 9-Year Extension With ESPN, Turner, Through 2025". Sports Media Watch. Retrieved June 17, 2016.
- BBC Sports (February 10, 2015). "Premier League TV rights: Sky and BT pay £5.1bn for live games". BBC Sport. Retrieved June 17, 2016.
- 2015-16 NBA regular season viewership on national TV
- NBA on Christmas Day numbers game
- NBA All-Star Game TV rating and viewership
- Most watched NBA games on cable networks
- Most watched NBA games since 1998