NBA's TV extensions include rights for ESPN digital media content

Updated: June 27, 2007, 7:32 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- The NBA announced extensions of its television contracts with ESPN/ABC and TNT on Wednesday, deals that will include rights for digital media content.

The eight-year extensions will go through the 2015-16 season. The current six-year contracts expire at the end of next season.

"I consider this to be a wonderful vote of confidence by our very sophisticated network partners who are making such a substantial and long-term commitment," NBA commissioner David Stern said.

Financial details were not immediately disclosed.

The digital rights include the ability for the networks to broadcast live games and other content on digital media, including the Web and mobile TV. The deal also covers any new outlets ESPN develops between now and 2016.

ESPN's digital rights also include:

• Ability to include ESPN and ABC games and studio programming in any ESPN offering, on a live, delayed and on-demand basis and in an interactive format.

• Use of NBA-licensed content in multi-sport programming.

• Ability to simulcast full NBA games live on ESPN360.com and ESPN Mobile TV.

• Continued development of GameCast, fantasy games and interactive applications, as well as ESPN content and programming integration into EA Sports video games.

• Use of NBA-licensed content in user-personalized features on ESPN platforms.

"This agreement sets a new standard -- it is the most expansive package of rights we've acquired from a major professional league in our 27-year history," ESPN president George Bodeheimer said. "We're thrilled to take a major step forward in our relationship with David Stern and the NBA with this broad, global agreement. The scope of this deal and the new rights we obtained offer us tremendous opportunities to serve NBA fans like never before -- in the U.S., around the world, and through any device."

ABC will continue to air 15 regular-season games and the entire NBA Finals and will televise an increased number of games earlier in the playoffs. The maximum number of times a certain team can appear on the network during the regular season has been increased.

ESPN and ESPN2 will continue to show up to 75 regular-season games as well as one of the conference finals. ESPN will increase the number of early-round playoff games it airs.

In addition, ESPN will televise exclusive coverage of the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game, the NBA draft and draft lottery each season, and feature coverage of the yearly NBA pre-draft camp on ESPNU.

Stern and network executives downplayed the league's declining TV ratings, insisting there is still plenty of demand for NBA-related content through other forms of media.

San Antonio's recent four-game sweep of Cleveland finished with a record-low 6.2 television rating and 11 share on ABC.

"We are in this for the long term with the NBA," Bodenheimer said. "Sports is cyclical; they go up and down.... But it's an incredibly consistent property for us."

The contract also includes new rights for ESPN International to televise games worldwide.

TNT will continue to air 52 regular-season games, the All-Star Game and one of the conference finals.

The previous deal paid the NBA an average of $765 million a year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.