You might have noticed in the last few weeks that NBA players are getting huge contracts this offseason. Even role players are getting upwards of $10 million per year. The biggest free agent signing so far this summer has been All-Star forward Kevin Durant, who left the Oklahoma City Thunder today to sign a 2-year, $54.3 million deal with the Golden State Warriors.
Now here’s what TV executives don’t want you to notice: If you have ESPN and TNT in your cable or satellite TV package, roughly 2.47 cents from your monthly cable bill will end up in Kevin Durant’s pocket.
Here’s how that works:
As of June, 89,465,000 million homes receive ESPN in their TV packages, and ESPN receives a carriage fee of roughly $7.04/month for each home. That adds up to nearly $7.1 billion per year.
Likewise, TNT is in 91,456,000 million homes, and TNT receives a carriage fee of approximately $1.74/month for each home. That adds up to $1.93 billion per year.
From these two massive pot of cash, ESPN and TNT will pay for their 9-year, $24 billion TV deal with the NBA, which begins next season. ESPN will pay the NBA $1.466 billion per year, while TNT will pay $1.2 billion per year — which means you pay for that deal. If you get ESPN and TNT, $2.46 gets funneled from your monthly TV bill to the NBA, whether you watch or not.
Now here’s the fun part. That TV deal is split evenly across all 30 NBA teams. Each team will receive roughly $88.86 million per year from the new deal. The NBA salary cap this year? $94 million. That means ESPN and TNT cover 94.5% of NBA salaries alone. Local TV deals with regional sports networks cover the rest.
In the case of the Golden State Warriors, money from ESPN and TNT will cover the salaries of their projected starting 5 next season:
- Kevin Durant: $26,540,100
- Klay Thompson: $16,663,575
- Draymond Green: $15,330,435
- Stephen Curry: $12,112,400
- Andre Iguodala: $11,131,368
That’s $81,777,878 in salaries, all paid for by carriage fees from your cable bill. Divide Durant’s salary by the 89,456,000 homes that get both ESPN and TNT, and you’ll end up paying the All-Star forward 29.66 cents next season — or 2.47 cents per month.
That figure will likely increase, too. ESPN has lost an average of 281,000 homes per month over the last 24 months, while TNT has lost 233,000 homes per month over the last 12 months, and that rate of loss is expected to grow in coming years, while the networks’ carriage fees are expected to grow 6.5% per year through the end of the decade. That means the longer you hold on to cable, the more your money will end up in the pockets of every player in the NBA.
If you plan to watch Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, and the rest of the Warriors when they appear on ESPN and TNT next season, that’s one thing. If you didn’t know who Durant was before you read this article, though, you might want to take a look at your cable bill and consider what else you could be paying for that you don’t know about.