Will Miami Heat's New Television Deal Ensure Their Elite Status for the Future?

Ethan Sherwood StraussNBA Lead WriterJune 21, 2012

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 19:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat makes a shot over Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the fourth quarter in Game Four of the 2012 NBA Finals on June 19, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Sports are going through a television rights boom, and it's high time basketball's most controversial franchise cashed in. According to Forbes, the Miami Heat are renegotiating their contract with Fox Sports Florida, to the tune of between $80 million and $100 million. 

Whoa. That is not, an unimpressive number. Considering that the entirety of national hockey rights are worth roughly twice that amount, and that the big market Golden State Warriors "only" get around $25 million for television rights, Miami owner Micky Arison seems to be making out quite well here.

The question is, does such a move ensure "elite" status for this organization. I see two obstacles. The first one is the NBA itself, and the newly restrictive Collective Bargaining Agreement. Stern's league is trying to harshly penalize the outspending of competition. In a few years, I suspect we'll not see teams go $30 million over the cap, as the Lakers are want to do. 

The other obstacle are Micky Arison's finances. According to Forbes (again!), half a billion dollars was vacuumed out of Arison's accounts, because a Carnival Cruise ship (Arison's company) tragically ran aground. The new influx of local TV cash will certainly help the already rich owner, but I doubt he's feeling deep pocketed after this year. 

What the TV deal does mean is that the Heat are a marquee franchise in the present. Fresh off making two NBA Finals, they are certainly elite status in the league. The Decision, combined with a renowned nightlife, has made small market Miami seem as big market as it gets.