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NBA To Land Huge Rights Deal

Jason Barrett

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The NBA and its network partners expect to reach an agreement in principle on new long-term media deals by the start of the regular season, according to sources on all sides of the discussions.

Talks have progressed so rapidly that details are emerging on a massive agreement that would see the league’s annual rights fee more than double, with ESPN and Turner combining to pay more than $2 billion per year on average. One source said ESPN already has committed to pay “well over” $1 billion per year, and Turner is not far behind for a media rights extension that would kick in with the 2016-17 season.

As part of the current eight-year deals that end in June 2016, ESPN pays $485 million per year and Turner pays $445 million per year on average, bringing the league’s total take at just less than $1 billion per year.

But that figure would be dwarfed in a new deal that several sources pegged as an eight-year pact, though one source with knowledge of the talks said it ultimately could end up running nine years.

A final deal might not be signed or announced before the new season, but talks with ESPN and Turner are advanced enough that sources said there is little chance the NBA will carve out a third package for another network, like Fox Sports or NBC Sports. ESPN, in particular, has been adamant during negotiations that the NBA not develop a new package to sell to a competitive sports network, sources said.

The NBA cannot talk to other networks until the middle of next year, when ESPN and Turner’s exclusive negotiating window runs out. Barring an unforeseen snag in the ongoing negotiations, all sides expect new deals to be signed well before that happens.

The new agreements are expected to mirror the current ones in many ways. While many believe the league and its TV partners could fashion an agreement by the season opener on Oct. 28 — with a formal announcement likely to come weeks or even months later — several issues are left to be resolved, such as what to do with live streaming rights. The NBA wants to explore the NFL’s model, where streaming rights are sold separately. The NFL sold streaming rights to Verizon as part of a four-year, $1 billion deal that runs through the 2017 season. ESPN and Turner are balking at such a plan, saying that they need streaming rights to the games they produce.

One network source called a separation of those rights a “nonstarter.”

Streaming rights have been part of every TV rights deal (other than in the NFL) for the past several years, and the cable industry’s TV Everywhere streaming push continues to be a priority for networks and distributors.

While the league wants to retain control over its live streaming rights, one source said any new deal will likely include additional digital rights to the networks.

“That includes more video highlights and digital packages,” the source said.

The league and networks have reached broad agreement on several points. ESPN will retain rights to the NBA Finals championship series, which will remain on ABC. Turner will keep its exclusive Thursday night franchise and NBA All-Star Game coverage.

Turner also will continue to manage the NBA’s digital assets, which include NBA TV, NBA League Pass and NBA.com. Over the past 18 months, other properties, such as NASCAR and the PGA Tour, have taken their digital rights back from Turner. But it would be more difficult for the NBA to take its digital rights back since they are combined with NBA TV and with League Pass, the league’s out-of-market package.

The new agreements would represent a coup for NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who viewed the media deals as a top priority when he took over for longtime commissioner David Stern in February.

League and network executives declined to comment, but Silver hinted at the scope of the forthcoming deals at an industry conference in New York last week, saying, “The rights are going to go up, and go up a lot.”

For more visit the Sports Business Journal where this story was originally published

Sports Radio News

Joy Taylor Says Aaron Rodgers Is More Likeable After Pardon My Take Appearance

“It makes him astronomically more likeable,” Taylor said.

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Joy Taylor

On Monday, the Pardon My Take podcast dropped their latest episode which featured an interview with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Big Cat, one of the show’s co-hosts, is a Chicago Bears fan and has spent a lot of time not liking Rodgers publicly.

Colin Cowherd saw one of the many clips that the show shared and brought up how much he thought that Rodgers took ribbing from Big Cat and the podcast in stride. That’s when Joy Taylor offered that the interview could help Rodgers in the long run.

“It makes him astronomically more likeable,” Taylor said. “When you can show that you don’t take yourself that seriously, all of the animosity that people have towards you just kind of starts to wither away.”

She added that the disarming quality helps if people don’t perceive Rodgers as thinking he has all the answers.

“When people feel like they are projecting ‘I know more than you’ and ‘I’ve got it all figured out’ energy, people are like: ‘you got to be the smartest guy on the room all time time? You’re not.’

This is so likeable,” Taylor said. “It’s really funny.”

Cowherd agreed and even said he is probably going to go listen to it after the show.

“Aaron is genuinely laughing as they make fun of him and that is an incredibly endearing quality.”

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Sports Radio News

WNSR Debuts ‘Power Hour’ with Sami Kincaid

Nashville’s WNSR debuted Power Hour with host Sami Kincaid.

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Power Hour with Sami Kincaid

Nashville has a brand new voice to listen to on WNSR and her name is Sami Kincaid. On Saturday, the station debuted Power Hour with host Sami Kincaid.

The debut show featured Associated Press writer Teresa Walker, Vanderbilt women’s basketball guard Jordyn Cambridge and North Georgia assistant softball coach Alea White. The show is focused on women that are operating inside sports.

The show airs Saturdays from 9-10a CT.

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Sports Radio News

Toucher and Rich: Dennis Eckersley’s Retirement a “Huge Loss”

“When Eckersley got in there (the booth),” Shertenlieb started, “he was great. It made all of them better when Dennis Eckersley was around. It’s going to be a huge loss.”

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Dennis Eckersley

On Monday, Dennis Eckersley announced that he was going to retire from the Boston Red Sox television booth at the end of this season. The current NESN analyst is leaving after twenty years on the air with the team.

The news broke during Toucher and Rich on 98.5 the Sports Hub and it gave show co-host Rich Shertenlieb a chance to mention the news and praise the departing personality.

“When Eckersley got in there (the booth),” Shertenlieb started, “he was great. It made all of them better when Dennis Eckersley was around. It’s going to be a huge loss.”

The show spent the rest of the segment talking about what Eckersley offered that made him so unique. That’s when Matt McCarthy, fill-in for Fred Toucher, said that Eckersley was exactly what you wanted in an analyst.

“You want someone that’s going to give you an opinion,” McCarthy said. “Eck gave you an opinion. He’ll be missed.”

McCarthy also pointed out that this is the latest major shakeup that has happened to the television broadcast in recent years.

“There’s no doubt this is a blow,” McCarthy added. “This is a tremendous loss to that Red Sox broadcast to which has taken a lot of hits over the years with the loss of Jerry Remy, the decision to move on from Don Orsillo and now Dennis Eckersley retiring… they are going to have to find an entertainer in there. Matt McCarthy

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