Five things fans get out of new TV deal

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Five things fans get out of new TV deal
Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks dunks against Brandan Wright #34 of the Dallas Mavericks on January 5, 2014 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Danny Bollinger/NBAE via Getty Images)
Paul George #24 of the Indiana Pacers drives to the basket and dunks the ball against the Washington Wizards in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Verizon Center on May 15, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat dunks the ball against the Indiana Pacers in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs on May 24, 2014 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Kyrie Irving #2 of the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Eastern Conference goes up for a dunk during the 2013 NBA All-Star game at the Toyota Center on February 17, 2013 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Eric Gay/Pool/Getty Images)
Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat dunks against the Indiana Pacers in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs on May 26, 2014 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Chris Bosh #1 of the Miami Heat dunks against the Golden State Warriors on February 12, 2014 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
Raptors DeMar DeRozan slams a backward dunk during NBA matchup between Toronto Raptors and Houston Rockets, on Sunday, December 16, 2012, at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Roy Hibbert #55 of the Indiana Pacers dunks over Shane Battier #31 of the Miami Heat in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 17, 2012 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Joe Johnson #7 of the Brooklyn Nets attempts a dunk during a game against the San Antonio Spurs at the AT&T Center on December 31, 2013 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images)
Paul Millsap #4 of the Atlanta Hawks dunks against Jared Dudley #9 of the Los Angeles Clippers at Philips Arena on December 4, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Joakim Noah #13 of the Chicago Bulls dunks against the Dallas Mavericks on February 28, 2014 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)
John Wall #2 of the Washington Wizards goes up for a dunk against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on March 21, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder goes up for a dunk against the San Antonio Spurs in Game Three of the Western Conference Finals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs on May 25, 2014 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers dunks the ball against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Six of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 15, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Kevin Love #42 of the Minnesota Timberwolves dunks against the Portland Trail Blazers on December 18, 2013 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers goes up for the dunk against David Lee #10 of the Golden State Warriors on March 25, 2013 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors dunks against the Los Angeles Clippers in Game Seven of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 3, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the Portland Trailblazers dunks the ball against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Moda Center Arena in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)
Anthony Davis #23 of the New Orleans Pelicans goes up for the dunk against the Los Angeles Clippers during an NBA game on March 26, 2014 at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images)
James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets dunks the ball during the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on April 11, 2014 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
Dwight Howard #12 of the Houston Rockets dunks over Wesley Matthews #2 and Robin Lopez #42 of the Portland Trail Blazers during the first half in Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center on April 23, 2014 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 1: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers dunks against Chris Kaman #9 and Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on April 1, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks dunks against the Boston Celtics on March 17, 2014 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Danny Bollinger/NBAE via Getty Images)
Tony Parker #9 of the San Antonio Spurs goes up for a dunk against the Orlando Magic at the TD Waterhouse Centre on February 3, 2002 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Fernando Medina/ NBAE/ Getty Images)
Chris Paul #3 of the Los Angeles Clippers dunks the ball during the game between the Los Angeles Clippers and the New Orleans Hornets at Staples Center on December 19, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
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By PHILIL ROSSMAN-REICH
Crossover Chronicles

The NBA agreed to a new television deal which will nearly triple the television rights coming into the league starting with the 2017 season.

Ostensibly, there are very few changes. Games will be on ESPN and TNT still. The nights will change very little too. TNT may get a few off-Thursday nights and the schedule may allow for flex scheduling so the league can make sure important games are on TV and we will not get saddled with mediocre Lakers on television 20-plus times.

So what will fans get out of this new TV deal that has the NBA swimming through cash like Scrooge McDuck? Let's explore some:

1) Flexible games

As noted above, one of the big changes in the NBA's new TV deal is that the league is open to adding flex scheduling to its premier national television games - particularly the featured TNT Thursday night games.

Currently, the league schedules at most three games for Thursday nights, allowing TNT to feature "premiere" games without any other basketball competition. This often involves the league trying to predict which teams will generate ratings, leaving fans with sometimes awful choices for games - you have to love mediocre teams in big markets getting the preferential treatment even late in the season.

Better games, specifically as the season winds down, and more flexibility in the schedule to give nationally television audiences the best games possible. It seemed irrational to have the Lakers and Knicks on 20-plus times and even late in the season last year while the Wizards and Suns had one appearance each. For Washington, especially, the Playoffs were the team's first major appearance on a national stage. Only NBA junkies really knew who this team was.

The new scheduling and ability for TNT to better pick its matchups as the season progresses will ensure that the best games are on TV when they matter most.

2) Digital Access

The really groundbreaking idea coming out of the new television rights has to do with digital access to league games.

Currently the league retains most of the digital rights to games, sending them out through its League Pass program. Nationally televised games however are only available through cable subscriptions through Watch ESPN or the like. Watching a TNT game online can be a bit tricky, and it may still remain so.

However the new television rights deal leaves open the possibility for ESPN to provide nationally televised games online without requiring a cable subscription.

This is an incredibly innovative and new way to do things. For so long, these television rights have been tied to the networks and the cable companies. The NBA and ESPN seem to be preparing to take an unprecedented step to make nationally televised games available without a cable subscription.

The NBA is getting ahead of the trend (or is somewhere behind it, or whatever) in keeping the option open to create an all digital channel for the NBA and NBA games. Who knows if additional programming would come with it or if it is only the ESPN-televised games. The opportunities are endless.

3) Ads are coming

There is no avoiding it. Ads are coming to NBA jerseys.

And as part of the new television deal, advertisements on jerseys are part of the equation.

The television deal included a split of revenues coming from ads on jerseys with Turner set to put advertisements on All-Star uniforms in 2017:

Sources involved in the discussions said the two networks will receive a cut of any team's jersey sponsorship deal that is signed by a national brand that would have bought time on ESPN or TNT's NBA game telecasts - think Coca-Cola or Samsung. The networks will either get a straight payout from the deal, or they will receive specific commitments from the sponsor to buy additional TV advertising during games, a network source said.

This is pretty big. It is the first concrete signal that the NBA is preparing to put advertisements on their jerseys, much like soccer jerseys in the United States and around the world. Many international basketball teams already have advertisements on their jerseys. It is not so crazy an idea.

But in the United States, this idea is met with horror and anger. There is no denying it is coming though

4) Cable bills will increase

This is the potentially bad news of the new TV deal. Increased fees for TV rights get passed onto the consumer - even if they do not want ESPN.

The way the cable business is set up right now is the cable companies have to pay a fee to the cable channels to carry their network. That is why you will sometimes see FOX pull all their channels or Viacom (CBS) pull all of their channels off cable trying to negotiate an increased carriage fee.

ESPN is currently the most expensive one of these and cable companies would not dare drop that network because live sports are the last bastion for guaranteed live watching on cable television. Even this might be changing as digital access to games increases.

Cable companies spread around the cost of these increased usage fees. Undoubtedly to make back some of the costs for this massive rights deal by increasing their carriage rates. That means cable bills will be increasing, whether you watch the NBA or not.

5) A labor stoppage is coming

There has already been agitation from some players about the league's increased television rights deal. Kevin Durant hinted he would like to see the max contract abolished. Kobe Bryant and LeBron James both made comments to the effect of: the owners cannot be crying poor now.

In other words, the players are expecting to take back some of the revenue they lost in the last round of collective bargaining. There is a bigger pie and the players want their share of it.

The owners are not about to give up a favorable deal with more money coming in. And this will be Adam Silver's first solo collective bargaining as commissioner and Michelle Roberts will make her debut for the NBPA. A work stoppage seems inevitable.

Is it the kind of work stoppage that will cost games in the season though? That is the part nobody seems to know. Maybe the influx of cash will allow the owners to give a little bit to keep labor peace and keep the money rolling in for the league.

There will be a momentary stoppage though, it seems inevitable. And the players will not be happy if they do not get something in return for all the revenue coming in with this deal.

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily

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