NBA is also exploring the idea of mid-season tournaments. According to Front Office Sports, NBA wantsto improve revenue from media deals . The league’s push for a mid-season tournament is one option, but it needs to gain momentum throughout its ownership group.
The league’s concept for a mid-season tournament derives from its observations of international football leagues. European basketball clubs also incorporate tournament-style games, and one NBA team executive noted the massive fan support those games get. Current discussions reportedly revolve around an eight-team tournament with three single-elimination rounds.
Players would be incentivized with a reward of $1 million per player on the winning team. The WNBA is piloting the concept this season with a $500,00 prize pool. The tournament will be sponsored by Google and broadcast by Amazon. The NBA wanted the concept for its 75th anniversary, but the pandemic changed things. So, this year, league executives will study the fanfare of the WNBA’s format.
On the cusp of its next set of broadcast deals, the NBA is targeting a $75 billion price tag over nine years, an impressive leap from the $24 billion in deals it’s currently locked into with Disney and Warner Media. The league is also in a five-year deal with Tencent to stream games in China worth $1.5 billion.
However, teams are wary of trimming the regular season to 78 games from 82 to accommodate the midseason contest. Pre-pandemic regular-season games each brought in $2.5-$4 million for the home team. Tournament games could raise intensity levels, and force players to play through nagging injuries they could otherwise sit out. After all, the NBA’s postseason is the most important stretch of the year. If key players are injured during a high-pressure tournament game, championships could be at risk. With the right incentives, the league believes even the best players would be willing to help teammates earn more money.