Basketball fans are rejoicing following this weekend's news that the end of the 149-day NBA lockout is nigh. As AP reports, following intense negotiations the makings of a deal between the NBA and NBA players is now in place, with a tentative agreement starting the delayed season on December 25th.
"Barring either side rejecting the deal, training camps will open Dec. 9, with the league's first three games set to be played on Christmas Day," AP notes. "The Utah Jazz invited fans to start calling again to discuss ticket options, the reigning NBA champion Dallas Mavericks wrote 'Go Mavs' on Twitter shortly after the middle-of-the-night news conference to announce the breakthrough, and Shaquille O'Neal recorded a brief video to show his excitement."
The NBA's Twitter feed, above, also broke the news of a "tentative understanding" reached at 3 a.m. on Saturday with quotes from the press conference by commissioner David Stern. As the Wall Street Journal notes, it's the team owners who are poised to score big in this deal:
"The biggest changes will be off the court after owners scored an obvious economic win. The two sides will split the league's $4 billion in annual revenue almost equally, while in previous agreements the players received 57%. On the court, despite systematic changes like reducing contract length and increasing fees for high-spending teams, most think it will be business as usual."
The lengthy labor dispute, which threatened to scuttle the 2011/12 season altogether, doesn't appear to have damaged the NBA's brand among fans or advertisers, as the Journal reports:
"The 10-year deal, with an option to terminate after six years by either side, saves not only this season but also the NBA's image as a viable option for advertising. "The big winners are anyone involved in marketing and financing in the NBA—the advertisers, the sponsors, they've got continuity now," said David Carter, executive director of the Sports Business Institute at the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business. "A lot of people are focusing on what this means right away, but you have to look at it as 10 years that marketing partners and TV partners know they have this."
The NBA salvages its national TV contract with Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN and ABC and Time Warner Inc.'s Turner Sports, which pay the league a combined $930 million per year. Advertisers spent $807 million on NBA games that aired on cable and network TV last season, according to WPP PLC's Kantar Media. An average of two million people watched regular-season NBA games last year on ESPN, while an average of 2.5 million watched such games on Turner's TNT, according to Nielsen."