NBA Labor Talks Muted As Playoffs Start With a Bang

With the lockout dominating football talk, it’s time to enjoy the NBA while the action is on the court, rather than in the courts.

Like the NFL, the NBA’s owners and its players are far apart on how to divide the $4 billion they generate from ticket sales, sponsorships and of TV rights.

According to the league, 2010-11 was a very successful year. Ratings were up 42% on TNT, 38% on ABC and 28% on ESPN. Online, more than 1.94 billion videos were viewed during the season, an increase of 140% from last year’s record.

Live average attendance was up 1% to 17,306 per game, and a total of 21.3 million. Merchandise sales were up 20%, and sales at were up more than 60%.

That success is likely to continue during the playoffs. The first weekend of the postseason featured a bunch of tight games, exciting finishes and upsets. Looking ahead to the finals, in the Eastern Conference, the NBA could hardly go wrong. An exciting, big market team-the Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, Boston Celtics or even the New York Knicks–could make it to the finals. If any of those teams take on the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, who were upset in their first playoff game by Chris Paul and the Hornets, you’ll have a slam dunk for the folks at ABC/ESPN.

Unlike the NFL labor situation, which has media buyers and securities analysts in a tizzy, an NBA work stoppage seems far off. But basketball teams are in worse shape financially than their rich football counterparts, so the smart money is saying losing games is more likely in round ball. And that will affect advertisers who buy the NBA as part of their upfront schedules.

But that’s a ways off, so for now, check out D. Rose, LBJ, CP3, and KD, and think about ADUs later.

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.