The NBA’s revenues dropped 10% to $8.3 billion during the 2019/20 season due to the coronavirus pandemic and the controversy with China, according to a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe.
Those losses included $800MM in gate receipts and $400MM in sponsorships and merchandise, sources tell ESPN. The losses related to last year’s spat with China over Daryl Morey‘s tweet in support of Hong Kong protestors were estimated at $200MM.
The NBA did manage to recoup approximately $1.5 billion in revenue by restarting and completing the season during the summer, according to Woj and Lowe, who note that the bubble’s expenses totaled $190MM.
As Albert Nahmad and Eric Pincus point out in a Twitter thread, it sounds as if ESPN’s report is referring to gross income, since basketball related income (BRI) – which is used to determine the salary cap – was never projected to exceed $9 billion.
While the 2019/20 revenue losses are significant, the losses for ’20/21 will likely be more substantial, since the pandemic figures to affect the entire season rather than just the tail end of it. The NBA has told teams to prepare for a potential 40% loss of total revenue if fans can’t return to arenas, according to Wojnarowski and Lowe.
ESPN’s latest report on the state of the NBA includes a few more noteworthy details, so let’s round them up…
- The expectation remains that the NBA and NBPA will look to artificially inflate the 2020/21 salary cap to keep it around its current level of $109MM, sources tell ESPN. Following the usual formula and linking it directly to league revenue would result in a drop to about $90MM, according to Wojnarowski and Lowe.
- Amid rumors that some NBA players are pushing for a January 18 start to the 2020/21 season, Wojnarowski and Lowe refer to that possibility as an alternative that is “less palatable” to the league than its December 22 proposal. A mid-to-late January start would push the completion of the season into September, forcing the NBA to compete with the Tokyo Olympics and the start of football season, ESPN’s duo observes.
- As the NBA plans its 2020/21 season, it is open to the idea of setting up regional “pods” and reducing inter-conference games in order to cut back on teams’ travel, per Woj and Lowe. While the league is hoping to have its teams play games at their home arenas, it’s also open to a modified bubble environment similar to what the MLB did during its postseason, sources tell ESPN.
- The NBA is considering releasing its schedule for next season one half at a time in order to maintain flexibility in the event of postponed games and coronavirus outbreaks, according to ESPN. While the All-Star Game may not take place, the league still may look to schedule a mid-season break, which could also be used as a window to make up some postponed games.