Heat Inks Rights Renewal with Fox's Sun Sports

The Miami Heat has reached a multiyear media rights extension with Sun Sports. Under the pact, the regional sports network owned by Fox Sports will remain the exclusive regional TV home of the NBA squad.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but sources familiar with the negotiations indicate the deal may average upward of $35 million annually over its term.  At that level, the new pact would be akin to the deal Comcast SportsNet California inked with the Sacramento Kings this past summer and represent a significant uptick from the $20 million in rights fees the Heat was collecting under its old contract.  

In addition to televising live-game coverage and support fare of the Heat throughout the regular season, Sun Sports will also broadcast select first-round playoff games.  

The current Heat-Sun Sports deal still had a couple of seasons remaining, but the agreement maintains the television and marketing partnership that tipped between the Heat and then-Sunshine Network 22 years ago. 

"Extending our broadcasting agreement with Sun Sports is a perfect example of the stability and excellence the Miami Heat values so highly," said Eric Woolworth, president of The Heat Group's business operations. "For over 20 years, Sun Sports has been the place where Heat fans live. We're very proud that tradition lives on."  

“We are pleased Sun Sports will remain the local TV home of the Miami Heat for years to come,” said Steve Tello, senior vice president and general manager, Fox Sports Florida /Sun Sports.  “We want to thank Micky and Nick Arison, Eric Woolworth, and the entire Heat organization for their efforts in making this deal happen, and we look forward to bringing “Heat Nation” and Heat programming into homes of viewers throughout South Florida.”

Led by Chris Bosh (pictured), the Heat, despite losing LeBron James to his return to Cleveland, continue to perform very well with the Nielsens. Through the first three weeks of the current NBA campaign, Sun Sports has averaged a 6.72 household rating in the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale DMA, the nation’s 16th largest DMA. That’s up 3% from the corresponding point of the 2013-14 NBA season.

Sun Sports has been near the top of the RSN rankings with NBA over the past few seasons. Upon James’s arrival for the 2010-11 campaign, the team’s telecasts averaged a 4.94 rating (3rd) and drew 78,000 households (6th). Those numbers climbed to a 6.59 (2nd) and 104,000 households (4th) the next year and then to a 7.07 (2nd) and 115,000 (3rd) in 2012-13. In what turned out to be James’s final run with the club -- one marked by four Finals appearances and two NBA championships --Heat games netted a 6.85 rating and 114,000 households, with Sun Sports finishing third with both measures among RSNs televising NBA contests.