Oct. 18 (UPI) -- The NBA is projecting $10 billion in revenue for the upcoming 2021-22 season as audiences continue to return, a notable increase from the last two seasons when fan attendance was limited or disallowed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The league's revenue dropped from $8.8 billion in the 2018-19 season to $8.3 billion for the 2019-20 campaign -- the first season that COVID-19 impacted.
The NBA hasn't revealed revenue figures for its shortened 72-game season in 2020-21, but league commissioner Adam Silver told reporters Monday that revenue was down about 35% last year instead of the projected 40%.
"We lost significant amounts of money. The good news is we're able to take a long-term view of this business, and continue to grow in it," Silver said. "We try to look at it as an ongoing investment in the business over a long period of time as opposed to a loss of individual seasons."
The NBA is expecting to reach that revenue projection through jersey patch sponsorships, licensing deals and global outreach programs. Earlier this year, the league struck an equity deal with Fanatics for its trading card rights. The NBA also has a licensing deal with Dapper Labs for its NFTs collection.
Media rights make up about $2 billion of the NBA's total revenue. Corporate agreements with companies like Microsoft, Verizon and State Farm -- along with expanded business with Google -- could set up the NBA to surpass its record $1.46 billion in sponsorship money from last season.
The NBA, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary, is set to begin its 2021-22 season Tuesday with the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks taking on the Brooklyn Nets at Fiserv Forum in Wisconsin.