The NBA reportedly prevented $1.5 billion in projected television and sponsorship losses thanks to the league’s bubble at Disney World, which sheltered as many as 22 teams from the coronavirus pandemic for 100 days at a cost of $180 million.
Sports Business Journal reported the findings Wednesday after speaking with sources familiar with league finances. An NBA spokesman declined to confirm the specifics of the SBJ report.
‘Without a doubt, it was worth it,’ an executive from one of the 22 bubble teams told SBJ.
Best of all, the NBA did not record a single new COVID-19 infection inside the bubble.
The NBA reportedly prevented $1.5 billion in projected TV and sponsorship losses thanks to the league’s bubble at Disney World, which sheltered as many as 22 teams from the coronavirus pandemic for 100 days at a cost of $180 million. The 2019-20 season ended with the Lakers capturing their record-tying 17th NBA title with a six-game Finals win over Miami
Instead of ticket sales and game-night revenue – which usually account for about 40 percent of league revenue – the NBA finished its season with virtual fans (left) appearing on electronic scoreboards surrounding the court at the bubble in Florida. (Right) NBA commissioner Adam Silver was already projecting about $400 million in losses for the NBA in China this year
The NBA’s bubble sheltered as many as 22 teams from the coronavirus pandemic for 100 days at a cost of $180 million. There weren’t any new infections reported from inside the bubble
‘Everyone involved followed every plan we put together,’ said Kelly Flatow, NBA executive vice president of event management, who was integral in the creation and operation of the bubble. ‘We had no blueprint, but we pulled together as a team that far and wide had input in turning over every rock in putting together protocols.’
After posting a record $8.7 billion in league revenue for the 2018-19 season, the NBA is still expecting significant losses for 2019-2020, according to SBJ.
For starters, the pandemic put the league on hold from mid-March until late July. And when the NBA did resume, it did so without any ticket sales or game-night revenue, like concessions or merchandise sales, which accounts for about 40 percent of league revenue.
And that came after the NBA’s bout with China in October of 2019, when then-Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted his support for anti-Beijing protestors in Hong Kong, and consequently drawing the ire of the communist regime.
In response, China banned the NBA from state television for one year – a hiatus that recently ended, allowing the country to broadcast Games 5 and 6 of the Finals.
Anti-NBA protests followed in both mainland China, where fans objected to Morey’s tweet, and in Hong Kong, where demonstrators were outraged over the league’s perceived acquiescence to Beijing. Meanwhile in the US, Chinese-American fans began wearing pro-Hong Kong apparel to preseason games while protesting the regime in Beijing.
In the end, the NBA lost about $400 million in Chinese business, according to league commissioner Adam Silver.
Then-Houston Rockets’ general manager, Daryl Morey, inadvertently caused a dispute with China after tweeting his support for anti-Beijing protestors in Hong Kong. Morey deleted the tweet, but was never reprimanded by the league. He recently stepped down as Rockets GM nearly one year after the incident with China, which Silver estimates cost the NBA $400million
Protesters in Hong Kong slam LeBron James for his perceived submission to the Chinese regime, while many hold up signs thanking then-Rockets GM Daryl Morey for his support
The NBA won’t get a full picture of its total losses for 2019-2020 for several weeks as the league’s 30 teams complete their individual audits. The losses that were offset by the revenue created in the bubble do not include specific team losses, according to SBJ.
NBA television ratings also suffered this season, including a 37 percent decline in the postseason. Although President Donald Trump and many conservative critics pointed to players protesting racism during the national anthem and other social justice messaging as the culprit, the NBA’s Nielsen ratings decline was congruent with other leagues amid the pandemic.
For instance, the NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs were down 38 percent, tennis’ US Open dropped 45 percent, and the Kentucky Derby, which did not have any protests, was down a whopping 45 percent from 2019.
One possible reason for the NBA’s decline is that more viewers streamed the game online as the league saw a 34 percent rise in online viewership compared to 2019.
NBA television ratings also suffered this season, including a 37 percent decline in the postseason. Although President Donald Trump and many conservative critics pointed to players protesting racism during the national anthem and other social justice messaging as the culprit, the NBA’s Nielsen ratings decline was congruent with other leagues amid the pandemic