Many skeptics insist that the NBA product just isn't as telegenic or engaging as March Madness or the NFL.

December 03 [Sat], 2011, 16:43



Eighteen months ago, CBS and TNT agreed to pay the NCAA $10.8 billion for the rights to broadcast the 67 games that compose March Madness over a span of 14 years. That's more than $771 per year. Throw in the digital rights (including the ingenious boss button) and that figure crosses $11 billion.

The NBA currently receives approximately $930 million deal from its broadcast partners, ESPN/ABC and TNT, in a deal that will run through the 2015-16 season. The two networks combine to televise 142 regular-season games.Cheap nhl jerseys TNT gets the All-Star Game and a slew of playoff games, while ABC airs The Finals and a handful of weekend postseason games.

In other words, the NCAA sells the 11 broadcast dates of March Madness for just a smidgen less per year than the NBA earns for the rights to eight months of NBA basketball. It's important to note that March Madness has a lot of things going for it. Seemingly every office in America hosts a bracket pool, and the sudden-death nature of the tournament produces a level of drama that's tough to replicate in any sport.

The NFL, whose broadcast contracts are staggering, provides another measuring stick. Pro football is the ultimate appointment-viewing sport in North America and rakes in an obscene amount of money. ESPN pays $1.8 billion per season for the rights to Monday Night Football, streaming rights, expanded highlight packages and the draft. That's nearly twice what the NBA earns from its partners for nearly its entire national package, and doesn't include the enormous amount of cash the league generates from Sunday broadcasts on Fox, CBS and NBC. The NBA, of course, generates significant revenue from local television rights, though few of those numbers are publicly available -- and few of those deals likely come close to the $150 million per season the Lakers will reportedly earn from their new agreement with Time Warner.

Finding the sweet spot
How can the NBA tap into some of magic of the NCAA tournament or the NFL?

Many skeptics insist that the NBA product just isn't as telegenic or engaging as March Madness or the NFL. NBA enthusiasts would argue that's not the case -- it's just that the league hasn't cracked the code on how to translate all the virtues of the pro game into something people really, really, really want to watch, even in January.

If the NCAA and NFL have taught us one thing,Wholesale nhl jerseys it's that scarcity matters. Simply put, the fewer the games, the more eventful they feel. When games have greater consequences, they're imbued with a special brand of relevance. We congregate with friends, families and sometimes people we merely tolerate to create a community gathering around a game.

But how much does scarcity matter? How would we determine the ideal length of the NBA schedule?

In Economics 101, students learn about the utility or indifference curve, and how to find the sweet spot on the graph where a product's availability matches market demand.

Right now, there are 82 games. Why? Because it's been that way for decades. But "been that way for decades" -- or tradition -- is generally a lousy way to make decisions or to determine utility. Your local grocery doesn't buy inventory for the frozen food aisle based on purchasing and sales figures from 1972. The smart retailer constantly evaluates and re-evaluates consumer demand. People's habits change and a product that was a good loss leader 10 years ago might not be one now.

If we assume that 82 games is too many to achieve our goal of increasing interest, it's safe to say that 16 games are too few. A 76-game schedule would eliminate many of the "schedule losses" that come when exhausted teams roll into a far-off city at the tail end of a road trip, but what about something more radical -- say a 44-game schedule: