Report: NBA came in $1.5 billion under revenue projections in 2020

Chris Cwik
·2 min read

Just how bad was the NBA impacted as a result of COVID-19? It reportedly came in $1.5 billion under revenue projections, according to the Associated Press.

That loss was the result of multiple factors, according to the AP.

Revenue projections for the league this season were missed by about $1.5 billion, the person said. The losses were the result of a combination of factors — the shutdown caused by the pandemic, the cancelation of 171 regular-season games, completing the season in a bubble at Walt Disney World without fans, the nearly $200 million price tag for operating that bubble and a yearlong rift with the Chinese government that saw NBA games not shown on state television there.

It shouldn’t necessarily come as a surprise NBA revenue was down in 2020. It likely won’t be the only sport to suffer a huge monetary loss due to the coronavirus. Every other major sports league has operated with limited or no fans at games. Seasons have been shortened, and some games have been postponed or canceled due to coronavirus outbreaks. The China situation is only issue listed above that is unique to the NBA.

Still, $1.5 billion is a staggering figure. In May, commissioner Adam Silver reportedly warned players revenue could be an issue, saying 40 percent of the NBA’s revenue comes from game nights in arenas, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver prepared players for a potentially grim landscape amid the coronavirus pandemic, suggesting there are no guarantees when fans could fully return to NBA arenas next season.

Silver said that 40% of the league's revenue comes from money built around game nights in arenas.

“This could turn out to be the single greatest challenge of all our lives,” Silver told the players.

Silver made that statement before the NBA launched its Orlando bubble, which cost the league nearly $200 million.

Will the NBA’s revenue rebound in 2021?

Given that the coronavirus is still very much an issue in the United States, it’s tough to imagine NBA revenue bouncing all the way back in 2021. On Friday, the United States set a record for new coronavirus cases with more than 83,000 cases were reported.

It’s unclear how much that will impact the NBA next season. The league is still negotiating next season’s start date. It’s looking at Dec. 22, and there were rumors the NBA could try a later start date with the hopes teams could host fans at games in 2021, but the December rumors suggest the league knows that could be an issue due to the coronavirus.

If the NBA starts the 2020-21 season in December, that could set up the league for a normal October start for the 2021-22 season. It’s possible the NBA is hoping COVID-19 will be less of an issue by then.

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