With only 15 million cable homes, the NBA is counting on Turner--which already runs regular-season and NBA playoff games--to deepen its efforts with large cable operators. Given its array of entertainment and news networks, Turner is well-suited for the job.
NBA expects to see big distribution results over the next year and a half, according to NBA commissioner David Stern. Turner, however, will not leverage its own networks in package deals with the NBA when dealing with cable operators.
The NBA finds itself, like other sports leagues, unable to get more cable distribution--even with their programming prominence. The NFL Network and the Big Ten Network have both run into distribution problems.
As part of the deal, Turner will also help program and market the league's digital efforts. Both Turner and NBA will jointly sell the advertising on all of the NBA's digital assets, as well as NBA TV.
The venture between Turner and NBC is a profit-sharing arrangement that will be run jointly by Adam Silver, deputy commissioner/COO of the NBA, and David Levy, president of Turner Broadcasting Sales, who will be hiring a general manager.
Turner will now also market NBA League Pass, the league's out-of-market game package and NBA's mobile content business.
Under an old agreement, Turner had a 2% stake in NBA TV. As part of this new agreement, it will give that equity back to the league. The deal runs through the 2015-2016 season.