NBA’s new TV deal is worth $76 BILLION, and the salary cap is exploding again
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NBA’s new TV deal is worth $76 BILLION, and the salary cap is exploding again

The NBA’s new media deal was always going to be big, but nobody predicted just how massive the league’s financial gains would be. A report from the Wall Street Journal indicates that the agreed to deal with NBC, ESPN and Amazon will be 11 years, $76 BILLION — shattering even the high-end of expectations.

The figure averages out to just over $6.9B a year, representing a 265 percent increase over what the NBA was getting from Warner Bros. Discovery, ESPN and ABC. The parent company of TNT, as well as Disney had been paying a combined $2.6B a year to air NBA games. The agreement with Warner Bros. Discovery was part of an uninterrupted deal that started in 1988 with TNT in cable’s infancy. This new contract marks the first time the NBA has truly jumped ship to new networks in almost 40 years, which as fans have mourned, will mean the end of the legendary Inside the NBA due to the talent having existing contracts with Warner Bros. Discovery.

It has been hoped from the Warner camp that they would be able to find a way to keep their NBA programming, but ultimately the figure simply got too high. The triumvirate who are set to gain the rights represent three of the biggest conglomerates in the United States, with Comcast (NBC), Disney (ESPN), and Amazon all having access to funds that Warners Bros. Discovery simply couldn’t match.

It’s unclear at this time how games will be split up, or what agreement each proposed stakeholder has to air games. In addition it remains to be seen how elements of the NBA’s business like NBA League Pass or local market games will operate under this new deal. One thing is clear, however: Players are about to benefit in ways he have never, ever seen before.

Players must receive 50 percent of any media deal under the collective bargaining agreement reached with the NBPA, which runs through the 2029-30 season. It’s important to note that funds from the new TV deal wouldn’t be reflected in the salary cap until the 2025-26 season, at which point they would be rolled out as incremental 10 percent increases year-over-year for the life of the deal.

What this means is while the salary cap has already been set at $141M for the upcoming season, in three years time it will have swollen to $170M — and two years after that the cap will be at $206M. That has a major effect on contracts, particularly the NBA’s Super Max deals, which remain the most common ways for superstar players to remain on their existing teams. One of the most notable recent supermax players was Jaylen Brown of the Celtics, and here’s how his deal would compare with one signed after these salary cap increases:

  • Jaylen Brown: 5 years, $304M
  • 2028-29 free agent: 5 years, $419M

This will only keep rising. Sean Marks, general manager of the Brooklyn Nets told the New York Post that he expects that by 2032 these supermax contracts will be worth over $100M per year due to the new media rights deal. That figure would easily surpass the $70M AAV Shohei Ohtani is earning with the Dodgers, and dwarf Joe Burrow’s deal, which is the highest AAV contract in the NFL at $55M.

At this point estimates are on the low-end too, with new rights deals being brokered globally likely pushing these salaries higher due to the NBA’s unprecedented popularity internationally.

Who could the first $100M a year man in the NBA be? It’s early, but go ahead and pencil in in Victor Wembanyama. Wemby’s rookie deal runs through 2026-27, at which point he’d presumably sign a 5-year supermax deal which would be due to an extension after 2032-33 — right when it’s expected the magic number will be reached.

The future is ludicrously bright for the NBA, and players are destined to become some of the highest-paid athletes in history because of it.