DirecTV expands NBA TV carriage

Network sets sights on 30 million homes

DirecTV and the NBA have signed a multiyear agreement to extend and expand distribution of 24-hour digital network NBA TV beginning with the 2009-10 season.

Financial details weren't disclosed.

It's the first deal announced since the basketball league launched its NBA Digital joint venture with Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting System. It also comes on the heels of ratings gains for ESPN's and ABC's NBA broadcasts this season.

DirecTV will increase NBA TV's distribution, providing the network in standard and HD, and also will continue to offer NBA League Pass. According to a spokesman, NBA TV is currently in more than 12 million homes. By next season's tipoff, it plans to be in 30 million homes.

DirecTV customers will get the NBA network on the satellite TV giant's Choice Xtra programming package, which attracts more subscribers than the current package NBA TV is part of. NBA TV will also be moved to Channel 216 on DirecTV from Channel 601.

"This new agreement will allow millions of additional fans to experience NBA TV's more than 100 live NBA games," said NBA deputy commissioner and COO Adam Silver.

Added Bryan Perez, senior vp/general manager, NBA Digital: "By delivering more games, insightful and entertaining studio shows and compelling features, as well as increasing fan engagement through such innovative initiatives as Fan Night, our goal is to continue to be the destination for basketball enthusiasts."

Meanwhile, TNT closed the books on another successful NBA campaign, posting a 14% increase in total viewers over the course of 53 regular-season games, with an average delivery of 1.71 million fans per contest, according to Nielsen.

TNT notched a 17% improvement among viewers 18-49 and upped its share of adults 25-54 by 16% to 881,000. The slate drew 12% more men 18-49 and 12% more men 25-54.

Anthony Crupi of Mediaweek contributed to this report.