The NBA All-Star game, as Kawhi Leonard said, is about money. Which, of course. The NBA is a business designed to turn a profit.
But just how much money is on the line with the All-Star game?
Sam Amick of The Athletic:
a source with knowledge of the network’s finances said Turner makes approximately $30 million in ad revenue alone during that weekend.
But in terms of how the agreement with Turner is structured, one source with knowledge of the arrangement said it’s “in totality” as opposed to being specific to any one event. Translation: It’s not a cut-and-dried breach of contract situation if there was no All-Star game, but it would require all parties involved to revisit the terms and get creative in search of solutions. The losses would need to be accounted for — again.
This is helpful information. But it still leaves an incomplete picture.
For one, it’s unclear exactly how much money Turner would lose with a canceled All-Star game. Even if there were no All-Star game, TNT would still air programming during that timeslot. How much ad revenue would the replacement programming draw? In the other direction, special events like the NBA All-Star game might also maximize TNT’s carriage fee.
Even with Turner’s precise financial situation known, it’s unclear what responsibility the NBA would bear for canceling the All-Star game amid a pandemic. As Amick reported, the league’s contract with Turner doesn’t assign values to individual events. TNT also airs many NBA games, including playoff games.
The NBA is taking a financial risk by holding an All-Star game. A regular-season game directly puts two teams at risk of a coronavirus outbreak. A coronavirus outbreak at the All-Star game would directly threaten up to 24 teams. And not only could an outbreak disrupt the schedule of many teams, it’d sideline the league’s most-marketable stars.
The National Basketball Players Association is also accepting some downside. Some of its members will be inconvenienced by actually travelling to Atlanta for the All-Star game in the midst of a break during this rushed season.
But both the league and union assessed the situation – including more-concrete financial details – and decided an All-Star game was worth the trouble.
That ought to tell you plenty.