Trail Blazers

NBA recovered roughly $1.5 billion in Orlando bubble restart -- report

Trail Blazers

Last week, Sports Media Watch reported that the 2020 NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat had a 49 percent drop in television viewership across national networks, ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, and NBATV compared to last year’s Finals between the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors.

Overall playoff viewership was down by 37 percent.

Even with the ratings bust, the league still recouped plenty of money in the Orlando Bubble by playing the ‘eight seeding’ games and the entire postseason. 

The NBA restart was a success in many ways as reported by John Lombardo of SportsBusiness Daily:

“According to sources familiar with the league’s finances, the Disney restart allowed the NBA to stem the loss of about $1.5 billion in expected revenue, the bulk of the money tied to national and local television revenue followed by league sponsorships.”

The NBA restart reportedly cost around $180 million to put on the bubble for more than three months.

Without a doubt, it was worth it.

An executive from an Orlando bubble team told Sports Business Daily on the effort and investment needed to complete the restart

Even with the $1.5 billion revenue, the losses across the league are still steep. The NBA won’t know the exact amount of its overall revenue loss due to the coronavirus pandemic until it completes audits for all 30 teams over the coming weeks.

As the NBA looks to tip-off the 2020-21 season with an expected start date in Jan., the league and its players are currently negotiating the salary cap for next season, which will be established from the restart’s money for the amount of basketball-related income that will be used. Thus, the league and the players union will be negotiating how to factor in heavy loss from this year into the salary cap.


Roughly 40% of total league revenue comes from no fans attending games across the country. Plus, the money made in the bubble will not offset any specific team losses, which could also be significant.

But, the league can be satisfied with reaching its top goal:

Keeping the players safe.

The NBA managed no disruption of play with zero positive COVID-19 tests.

““Everyone involved followed every plan we put together. We had no blueprint, but we pulled together as a team that far and wide had input in turning over every rock in putting together protocols… Our No. 1 priority was health and safety," said Kelly Flatow, NBA executive vice president and event management, “And from a business standpoint, it was important that we would finish the 2019-2020 season, crown a champion and be able to include our business and media partners and develop a plan to bring our fans courtside.”