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NBA's TV Partners Seek Flexible Scheduling For National Games

ESPN and TNT want more assurances from the NBA that they won't be locked into bad national game matches as they open talks on new television deals.

The networks were stuck with far too many games involving the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers after their respective seasons had fallen apart.

NBC's "Sunday Night Football" package has had great success in the NFL due to flexible scheduling late int he season.

Unlike the NFL, where national TV revenue drives the financials, local TV deals are critical in the NBA, and sources say NBA team owners are firm in their resolve to preserve that lucrative revenue.

At present, ESPN and TNT can take a total of 12 games per team for exclusive telecasts, leaving RSNs to produce between 70 and 82 games per club.

“The national rights [fee] is going to be a big number, and the networks are going to try to grab as much as they possibly can,” said a source. “But teams have to protect the local markets because there is a lot of money there, too.”

Turner and ESPN/ABC have two years remaining on their eight-year, $7.5 billion deal, which expires at the end of the 2015-16 season.

Via John Ourand, John Lombardo/Sports Business Journal
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