If the NBA Season Is Canceled, the League Will Lose Nearly $500 Million

Steve Dykes_Getty Images
Steve Dykes/Getty Images

If the NBA doesn’t play again this year, it will cost the league nearly $500 million in revenues.

That’s in addition to the substantial revenue loss the league already experienced earlier this year after the controversy surrounding Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey’s pro-Hong Kong tweet. From that point until the recent response to the coronavirus, the league has been losing cash.

NBC’s Tom Haberstroh has the grisly financial projection for the league if the season is lost.

As a rule of thumb, the source said, the NBA makes an average of $1.2 million in gate revenue per regular-season game and $2 million for each playoff game. With 259 of 1,230 regular-season games remaining, that means roughly $300 million of ticket revenue lost if fans couldn’t purchase tickets. Over the past decade, on average, there have been 83 playoff games in each postseason, which would lead to another loss of about $166 million.

That’s nearly $500 million in estimated lost ticket revenue if the N.B.A. doesn’t allow fans to attend the full slate of games.

With each team losing from $500,000 to $3.5 million a game, the money is adding up quickly as the league stays shuttered. But the loss will also have ripples outward to television, cable, advertisers, maybe even the players, though they have contracts, so it is hard to know how it might affect them. Perhaps in future offerings.

The league itself noted that it is continually re-evaluating.

“The N.B.A. will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic,” the league said, according to Haberstroh.

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