ESPN & NBA Reach Nine-Year Agreement for Significantly Enhanced Multiplatform Rights


ESPN & NBA Reach Nine-Year Agreement for Significantly Enhanced Multiplatform Rights

  • Increased TV, Digital, Highlights, Data, Audio & International Rights Through 2024-25
  • More Regular-Season Games, Greater Schedule Flexibility and Broader Exclusivity
  • NBA and ESPN Intend to Launch Over-The-Top Offering

ESPN has reached a forward-looking, nine-year, multiplatform agreement with the National Basketball Association, beginning with the 2016-17 season, which will significantly enhance the company’s NBA rights and content offerings. The agreement, effective through 2024-25, substantially increases ESPN’s television, digital, highlights, data, audio and International NBA rights. It was announced today by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and ESPN President John Skipper.

In addition, the parties have also established a framework for ESPN and the NBA to negotiate the launch of a new over-the-top offering in which the league would receive equity interest. Details for the new offering would be announced at a future date.

ABC will also remain the exclusive home of the NBA Finals.


In addition to the over-the-top service, the new and enhanced rights also include:

  • 10 additional regular-season games for ESPN or ABC bringing the regular season total to 100;
  • 10 more exclusive regular-season windows;
  • Increased team appearances to showcase the most popular teams and most compelling matchups more times throughout the season;
  • As part of the new agreement, ESPN will substantially increase its NBA-focused programming with 750 new hours of NBA content on linear and digital platforms, establishing a significant year-round presence for the NBA on ESPN;
  • ESPN has reached a multi-year extension for WNBA rights through 2025, which will include increased in-progress highlights on linear and digital platforms;
  • ESPN International – In Latin America, the Caribbean, Australia and New Zealand, ESPN will carry significantly more exclusive regular-season and playoff games on ESPN platforms, including expanded weekend windows during the regular season, increased first and second round playoff coverage, and the NBA conference finals and NBA Finals (including exclusivity in Australia and New Zealand). Additionally, ESPN will carry more NBA-themed programming throughout the year;
  • Increased ability to use NBA footage and highlights, plus in-progress highlight rights, on all linear and digital ESPN offerings, including, ABC; ESPN; ESPN2; ESPNEWS; ESPN Deportes; ESPN International; ESPN Audio;; ESPN3, WatchESPN, SEC Network, ESPNU, Longhorn Network, Grantland, FiveThirtyEight, ESPN Films;
  • Live, national rights to NBA Summer League and NBA D-League across ESPN entities;
  • While increasing its English-language distribution rights, ESPN Audio will become the exclusive Spanish-language national rights holder through ESPN Deportes Radio on terrestrial radio, satellite and all forms of radio devices including digital and third party platforms;
  • Additional regular-season and playoff games for ESPN Deportes and ESPN Deportes+.

The new rights join these extensive continuing elements in the new agreement:

  • ABC will continue to be the exclusive broadcast home of The Finals;
  • The NBA post-season begins and concludes on ESPN networks, as ESPN and ABC combine for up to 44 NBA post-season games, including the Conference Finals;
  • ESPN Audio will continue its 20-plus year tenure as the exclusive, national radio home of the NBA, with coverage of the NBA Finals, NBA Conference Finals, NBA Playoffs, NBA All-Star Game and NBA regular-season games;
  • ESPN and ABC will continue with a significant television presence for NBA Christmas Day, the NBA’s season-opening week and NBA All-Star festivities such as the Celebrity All-Star Game;
  • Season-long prime time games Wednesdays and Fridays on ESPN and Sundays on ESPN and ABC;
  • NBA Finals streamed on ESPN3 or WatchABC and ESPN Deportes;
  • Extensive weekly studio programming on ESPN;
  • ESPN will continue to be the exclusive home to the NBA Draft, NBA Draft Combine and NBA Draft Lottery.

ESPN President John Skipper:

“The NBA has never been more popular and it continues to grow under Adam’s leadership. By acquiring significantly more NBA content for both existing and yet-to-be created platforms, we will establish a vibrant, year-round NBA presence for fans. For ESPN, this agreement continues our fruitful, longstanding relationship with the NBA and bolsters what is already the sports industry’s most impressive and impactful collection of media rights.”

This new agreement will ensure a 23-year continuous relationship between the network and league, which began in 2002. There are two years remaining on the existing rights agreement, which is effective through the 2015-16 season.




Dave Nagle

It was 33 years at ESPN for me as of November 2019 (the only job I’ve ever had) after joining merely to help with the America’s Cup for three months at a robust $5.50 per hour. I like to say I simply kept showing up. I’ve worked on almost every sport, plus answered viewer calls and letters (people used to write!), given tours, written the company newsletter and once drove NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon to the local airport. My travels have been varied…I’ve been to Martinsville and Super Bowls; the America’s Cup (all 3) in San Diego and College GameDay in the sport’s meccas such as Eugene, Auburn, Lubbock, Stillwater and more; the NBA Finals and Indy 500; Wimbledon (16 times and counting) and the “other Bristol,” the one with a race track in Tennessee. These days, in addition to overseeing the Fan Relations, Archives and, my main areas are tennis, ratings, and corporate communications documents, including ESPN’s history and growth.
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