How does the NBA get paid by the networks for playoff games? Do they get more money the more games that are played?

  • I don't believe the contract is public record, though perhaps TNT and ESPN/Disney shareholders have some visibility. The amounts are public record of course. Personally I think they get paid a lump sum - over the length of the contract the number of playoff games is likely to be fairly predictable, even if one year has more or less.
    – Joe
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 21:36
  • This is interesting because if it was a flat fee, networks would want as many games as possible for advertisement and such. If it is on a per game basis would the NBA charge more for a finals game 7.
    – diggers3
    Commented Jun 12, 2015 at 17:31
  • @joe - looks like a flat fee, Disney and TNT are paying for the right to broadcast a few series ("up to X" games). The broadcasters will of course make more money from advertising if each series runs long, hence complaints from Ayesha Curry that the 2016 finals were rigged (si.com/nba/2016/06/16/…).
    – JW8
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 4:22

1 Answer 1


The NBA included rights to broadcast playoff games in the $24 billion extension signed with Disney/ESPN and TNT. This deal covers both regular season and playoff games:

Under this arrangement, ESPN will pay $1.4 billion per year, while Turner will pay $1.2 billion, according to Sports Business Journal.

Per the league's press release:

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has expanded its partnerships with Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. and The Walt Disney Company through new, nine-year agreements under which ABC, TNT, and ESPN will televise NBA games beginning with the 2016-17 season and running through the 2024-25 season

Quote regarding TNT playoff games:

TNT will televise up to 45 playoff games during the first two rounds and will have exclusive coverage of the conference semifinals games it telecasts and one of the conference finals each year.

Quotes regarding ABC/ESPN playoff games:

The postseason will feature the entire best-of-seven NBA Finals in primetime on ABC.


ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 will also televise up to 30 playoff games in the first two rounds, while ESPN will feature exclusive coverage of the conference semifinals games it televises and one of the conference finals each year.

Note that there is no accounting for additional "per-game" payments, so the two broadcast partners of the NBA are paying a flat fee every year for the entire package of games (both regular season and playoffs).

  • While accurate, this in no way answers the question, which asked about how the networks were paid.
    – Joe
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 4:25
  • @joe everything is paid as a flat fee - i'll update the question if unclear.
    – JW8
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 4:26
  • I don’t think your article is at all clear on that, particularly as it’s talking about the entire package, and is vague on the totals. It is likely there are significant terms relating to the playoff games that could involve payments per game or reimbursement if games fall below a certain number per year - who knows. I don’t think this information is knowable without being a lawyer for one of the parties ...
    – Joe
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 4:28

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