Saturday, July 13, 2024

NBA Finalizes TV Deals With Disney, NBC and Amazon … But TNT’s Future Is Unclear

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The NBA has finalized an enormous new set of media rights deals with Disney, NBC and Amazon … but the future of the NBA on TNT isn’t quite settled yet.

The new deals were set on Wednesday, sources confirm to The Hollywood Reporter, but the NBA board of governors still needs to approve them (that vote is expected Tuesday). After that happens, Warner Bros. Discovery will have five days to try and match. It is not entirely clear what WBD will do (some reporting has suggested it may try to match Amazon’s package, others suggest the company may sue), but if it opts not to match, or is otherwise shut out of rights, the new deals will mean the end of the NBA on TNT.

The Athletic first reported that the deals were done. The deals are said to be valued at about $76 billion over the course of the deals.

The deals mark the beginning of the end of months of behind-the-scenes drama, with the NBA coming to terms with Disney/ESPN during its exclusive negotiating window, but with talks with WBD breaking down early on, leading to the bids from Amazon and NBC Sports.

Multiple sources in the world of sports and media say that the NBA is the second most important sports rights package in the marketplace (a distant second, behind the NFL behemoth). With its young fanbase, still-strong ratings and global ambitions, the league checks a lot of boxes for media companies looking to prop up legacy linear TV, or to continue building robust streaming businesses.

The league, meanwhile, has been careful in its talks to be sure that it remains relevant by keeping streaming top of mind, less the league remain relegated to pay-TV.

While the specifics of the new deals are still under wraps, they are believed to include enhanced streaming rights for ESPN and NBC, including exclusive games on Peacock. All three partners will get some playoff games, with ABC remaining the home of the NBA Finals.

Executives at both NBC and Amazon are said to be chomping at the bit for the games, which will expand their live sports portfolios well beyond the NFL season. NBC is also betting that the NBA will help turbocharge Peacock.

And while the future of the regional sports networks remain in flux, with the national rights beginning to be squared away, the league can count on some stability in that regard for years to come.

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