NBA Nets Two Big Deals

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has signed two major deals, one with ESPN and ABC, and another with Turner Broadcasting System and America Online Inc.

The deal with ESPN and ABC is a six-year agreement beginning in 2002-03 to televise more than 100 regular- and post-season games per year, including the NBA Finals, on ABC Sports, ESPN and ESPN2. The agreement also features distribution rights for related NBA programming and content on numerous ESPN and ABC outlets and extensions of several existing agreements. The wide-ranging deal provides for coverage on multiple television networks (ABC, ABC Family, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS), ESPN Radio and ESPN.com, as well as opportunities involving emerging technologies such as video on demand, interactive TV, broadband and video game development.

The ABC Television Network will broadcast as many as 15 regular-season games beginning on Christmas and continuing on Sunday afternoons starting late January/early February. The post-season schedule on ABC will include up to 12 games, including the entire best-of-seven NBA Finals. All of ABC's telecasts will have time period and broadcast exclusivity. The recently acquired ABC Family service will also televise post-game shows after each NBA Finals game aired on ABC, several NBA specials and encore presentations of NBA Inside Stuff, an entertaining weekly look behind-the-scenes of the NBA, which will be aired on ABC Saturday mornings.

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ESPN and ESPN2 will televise 75 regular-season games - primarily on Wednesday and Friday nights and holidays, including many Friday doubleheaders. ESPN will also televise up to 24 playoff games, including up to seven exclusive telecasts of the conference finals. On Tuesday nights throughout the season, ESPN2 will debut a weekly “whiparound” program featuring highlights of all current NBA action and cut-ins to live action that evening.

The deal with AOL Time Warner six-year television, interactive media and marketing agreement with the National Basketball Association (NBA) under which NBA games and content will be featured across AOL Time Warner on-air and online brands. Under this pact, which expands upon relationships previously held between the NBA, Turner Broadcasting System and America Online Inc., AOL Time Warner will continue its successful 18-year partnership with the NBA through the 2007-08 season, and becomes the official ISP for the NBA.

Under the six-year agreement, Turner Network Television (TNT) will receive an exclusive package of approximately 45 NBA Playoff games, including the conference semi-finals and one conference finals series each year. For the first time ever on basic cable, TNT will exclusively televise the NBA All-Star Game as well as the entire NBA All-Star Weekend of events. In addition, TNT will televise 52 regular season games in prime-time, including an Opening Night doubleheader and a doubleheader on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day each year.

Expanding on the strategic alliance announced in June, 2000, America Online will now become the official ISP of the NBA, the WNBA and the National Basketball Development League, and the NBA will provide content to AOL members including free audiocast of many NBA games on the AOL service. America Online will continue to promote the NBA across the family of America Online interactive brands and will receive cross-promotion at NBA games and telecasts. AOL Time Warner and the NBA will also explore content delivery across emerging technology platforms.

In addition, AOL Time Warner and the NBA also announced that they will explore the creation of a jointly-owned, national 24-hour cable sports network. The new sports network would offer rich and compelling sports content, including live professional events and sports news. As its programming foundation, the new network would telecast 96 regular season NBA games and at least two NBA playoff games, and may also include classic NBA games, WNBA, and NBA Development League programming, auto racing, tennis, golf, college sports and other sports programming.

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