NEW YORK (AFP) – NBA revenues fell 10 per cent to US$8.3 billion (S$11.33 billion) for the 2019-20 season disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, ESPN reported Wednesday (Oct 28), saying the league lost US$800 million in ticket income alone.
Citing financial numbers shared with league clubs and obtained by ESPN, the report said the NBA lost US$400 million in sponsorships and merchandise.
The cost of a split with China of a long partnership over tweets by then-Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey was put at US$200 million of “net negative impact” according to the report.
Losses would have been much worse had the NBA not completed the season and staged the playoffs in a bubble at Orlando, saying US$1.5 billion in revenue was recovered by restarting the season even though expenses for the bubble were US$190 million, US$10 million more than first estimated, sources told ESPN.
The details emerged as the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association talk over possible start dates for the 2020-21 season and financial terms to update the collective bargaining agreement in the wake of the pandemic.
The NBA told clubs that a potential 40 per cent overall revenue loss – about US$4 billion – would occur if the 2020-21 season took place without spectators and gate receipts.
The report said the NBA wants a December 22 start to the 2020-21 campaign and a season of 72 games for each club with a play-in tournament for the playoffs and a conclusion in time to have NBA talent in the Tokyo Olympic basketball competition.
Another option would be started in mind-January around the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday. That would push the finish of the season to mid-September and have NBA games compete with the Olympics and NFL for television audiences.
While the league wants games in home arenas with spectators, and is open to the idea of teams playing only conference or regional foes to ease travel costs and Covid-19 exposure, it is also look at bubble situations such as those used for the Major League Baseball playoffs.