The English Premier League and the NBA are exploring a marketing and commercial tie-up that would draw on the strengths of the world’s two most popular sports leagues as they expand into new international markets.
Representatives from the football and basketball organisations have met in London to discuss how they might work together. They have also compared notes on their respective media rights strategies – particularly in Asia, which is a huge and still largely untapped market for western sport.
David Stern NBA commissioner said: “We are unapologetic imitators. The Premier League’s ability to negotiate their [media] deals and the way they split their packages [of media rights] . . . is something we can learn from.”
The NBA is in the first year of a $7.4bn, eight-year deal with Walt Disney’s ESPN and ABC networks and Time Warner’s TNT channel. The Premier League, by contrast, recently negotiated a new UK broadcasting deal with British Sky Broadcasting and Setanta worth £1.8bn ($2.8bn) over three years. It is also close to announcing a new international rights deal, with its current contract worth £650m.
Although a Chinese consortium is reportedly seeking a stake in the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Premier League has a better hit rate when it comes to attracting international investors. “The Premier League has been a bit ahead of us,” Mr Stern said, pointing to the Russian, American and Middle Eastern investors that have bought into English clubs.
While both sports are commercially lucrative, they are organised very differently. In the NBA, poorly performing teams are given priority when promising new players are “drafted” into the sport. There is no promotion or relegation and each franchise must keep its costs within set budgets.
In the Premier League, broadcasting money is also pooled and distributed, but there are far fewer restrictions over how much individual clubs can spend. Critics say this has created an imbalance, with wealthier clubs such as Manchester United and Chelsea able to dominate the league season after season.
Mr Stern said: “In boom times an absence of restraints is attractive to investors and risk takers”.
Tags: NBA, EPL, David Stern, B Sky B, China, Asian expansion, Russian, Middle Eastern, American, Cleveland Cavaliers, Setanta, marketing, Walt Disney, Broadcast rights, Chelsea, Man U, ABC, Time Warner, TNT,