Why the N.B.A. Is Planning on Going to Disney World

Key details for NBA re-start:
1) All games played at the 220-acre ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
2) No fans
3) The regular season resumes on July 31st
4) Abbreviated training camp set to start July 9th
5) 22 teams
6) 88 games total (8 games per team)

Big question #1: Why is the NBA re-starting the season when fans cannot attend the games?

Quick answer: TV revenue.  The NBA generates ≈ $2.6B/year from national TV deals alone.

NBA TV rights fees/year (% change) by deal according to Sports Business Journal:
1) 
2002-08 – $767M
2) 
2008-16 – $930M (↑ 62%)
3) 2016-25 – $2.6B (↑ 215%)

Big question #2: How big will the viewership be?

Mr. Screen’s Crystal Ball: Huge.  Even though ratings through the All-Star Break were down 10%+ YoY, 6M people recently spent 20 hours watching a documentary about basketball!

YoY viewership change for NBA basketball through the All-Star Break according to Sports Business Journal:
1) 
ESPN – ↓ 10%
2) All National – ↓ 12%
3) TNT – ↓ 13%
4) Local RSNs – ↓ 13%
5) ABC – ↓ 16%

Top 5 teams for YoY viewership gains (RSN only):
1) Los Angeles Clippers – ↑ 86%
2)
 Orlando Magic – ↑ 82%
3)
 Atlanta Hawks – ↑ 49%
4)
 Miami Heat – ↑ 39%
5)
 Milwaukee Bucks – ↑ 24%

Bottom 5 teams for YoY viewership gains (RSN only):
1) Denver Nuggets – ↓ 72%
2)
 Golden State Warriors – ↓ 66%
3)
 Washington Wizards – ↓ 55%
4)
 Charlotte Hornets – ↓ 52%
5)
 Oklahoma City Thunder – ↓ 51%

Big question #3: Why 22 teams?

Quick answer: The NBA made the cut at 22 teams so that any team within 6 games of the final playoff spot could play on.

Big question #4: Why 88 games?

Quick answer: This number was not accidental.  It will allow the league/teams to fulfill minimum game requirements from TV deals.  For example, the Los Angeles Lakers generate $1.5M/game from their local (RSN) deal with Spectrum SportsNet.

Bottom line: 259 games remained in the regular season, so 66% of these games will be canceled.

Key details for the NBA “bubble”:
1) ≈ 1,500 people will be inside
2) 28 total per team
3) 15 players per team
4) 4 coaches per team
5) 5 trainers/strength coaches
6) 4 others (equipment manager, PR, logistics and security) per team
7) 300-350 hotel workers

More #1: Why the NBA Could (and Should) Look More Like the World Cup

More #2: Is the NBA Worth All That TV Money?

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