NBA looks to double licensing fees with already pricey ESPN and TNT

Look for the two most expensive channels in the pay TV universe to become even pricier.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that the National Basketball Association is talking about licensing renewal deals with Disney-owned ESPN and Turner Network's TNT that would double fees currently paid.

The paper says Disney and Turner are in "preliminary discussions" about extending eight-year deals with the NBA that expire after the 2015-2016 pro basketball season. Disney now pays $485 million a year to nationally present NBA games, while Turner 's deal is worth $445 million per season.

Assuming the new pacts are tenured at eight years, the league is looking at a $15 billion broadcast licensing contract.

And this, of course, will have a major impact on pay TV providers and their relationship with their subscribers. Currently, ESPN is commanding average carriage fees of $5.54 per subscriber, according to SNL Kagan data released in September 2013. TNT was listed as the second most expensive channel at $1.33 per subscriber.

In June, Ad Age reported that NBC Sports and Fox Sports would also be in the hunt for NBA rights, but the WSJ says the discussions remain centered around the incumbents at this point.

There is the possibility, the WSJ adds, that rights to the NBA Finals could be split between Disney and Turner. Currently, Disney presents each game from the June championship series on ABC. Shifting them to TNT would mark the first time the NBA Finals would only be available through a pay TV subscription.

For more:
- read this Wall Street Journal story
- read this Ad Age story
- read this NPR story

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