Update: NBA turns over NBA TV, NBA.com ops to Turner in profit-sharing venture

The NBA, in a move to more efficiently meet expanding digital opportunities and also open up resources to more effectively address the international market will turn over day-to-day operations of NBA TV, NBA.com, and NBA League Pass to Atlanta-based Turner Broadcasting System while NBA Entertainment operations remain in Secaucus. NJ. The contract begins for the 2008-2009 season and will run through the 2015-2016 season. “This is a practical joint venture, not a legal one,” says NBA Commissioner David Stern. “We’ll be sharing the burdens and benefits.”

Stern says the deal is very much a work in progress and that, for now, the NBA Entertainment operations in Secaucus, NJ will continue to pump out original content for NBA TV as well as the NBA.com properties. Turner’s 24/7 HD facilities will make it easier for NBA TV to make the jump to full-time HD. And Turner’s growing expertise in managing digital properties like its own CNN.com and TBS.com as well as other partners like NASCAR.com and PGA.com also made the move attractive.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with this decision,” says Stern. “It is going to be an era of explosive growth for our digital assets and we’re looking forward to getting started.”

The NBA facility in Secaucus will continue to hold a key role for both the NAB archives and meeting the needs of other NBA broadcast partners like ESPN and regional networks as well as the international marketplace.

“We find ourselves awash in a sea of opportuniti both domestically and internationally,” says Stern. “We have [NBA TV and NBA.com] nested in an appropriate setting and now we can address the huge global opportunities that have been suggested by our domestic partnerships.”

Currently 150 employees, including freelancers, are involved with NBA TV and NBA.com. The NBA has been streamlining its related workforce by about a third through attrition and previous buyouts.

“This has been a long process but we believe this is a groundbreaking, new strategic business model for the digital age,” says David Levy, president of Turner Sports and Turner Broadcasting Sales. “The NBA has been at the forefront of cutting edge business ventures and this is the first time a major sports league has assigned comprehensive rights in a profit-sharing model.”

Adam Silver, NBA Deputy Commissioner and COO says the deal is the best way for the NBA to optimize its suite of digital and television assets in the U.S. “Our longtime media partner Turner is an innovative industry leader and our expanded relationship will create opportunities to better serve our fans,” says Silver.

The current TNT-NBA national television agreement extends their partnership through 2016, for a record 32 years. Turner’s TNT airs 52 regular-season games exclusively on Thursday nights in prime time; airs more than 40 Playoff games; and airs the annual All-Star Game and All-Star Saturday events exclusively. In addition, TNT NBA Overtime, a broadband feature on NBA.com, streams TNT-televised games, highlights and related programming live, delayed and on-demand.

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