NBA and Prime Video logos. NBA and Prime Video logos. (NBA logo from Logo Design Love, Prime Video logo from Wikipedia.)

The NBA’s exclusive negotiating window with Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery just ended on Tuesday. But Amazon Prime Video has already agreed to a “significant” deal with the league to broadcast regular season and playoff games, according to Andrew Marchand of The Athletic.

Marchand reports Amazon and the NBA are in agreement on a deal “at least a decade in length” that “will make the streaming service one of the main homes” for NBA games throughly nearly 2040. The deal would begin starting in the 2025-26 season.

This comes after John Ourand of Puck reported earlier this week that ESPN was close to a deal to re-up its NBA package, maintaining its rights to the NBA Finals. ESPN is expected to decrease from around 100 games to close to 80, making space for a third rights-holder like Prime Video, Marchand reported.

Insiders long expected the NBA to bring on at least one additional partner in this round of talks. With ESPN and Amazon signed on, pressure is on for bidders to strike an agreement with the NBA to join the party.

It will likely come down to some combination of TNT Sports and NBC. New WBD CEO David Zaslav infamously said in 2022 the company did not “have to have” the NBA, but the home of Inside the NBA has reportedly been in talks with the league for months about extending. At the same time, NBC Universal has reportedly made a strong push to reunite with the NBA after decades apart.

Both WBD and NBCU could ultimately buy packages, but this deal with Prime Video likely creates leverage for the NBA to create a bidding war between the two with only so much inventory left. WWE CEO Nick Khan previously speculated the two companies could partner on NBA broadcasts.

The Prime Video deal marks a significant change for the NBA at a time when its popularity may be backsliding in the United States. TV viewership has not returned to pre-pandemic norms, the NFL is taking over Christmas Day, the league’s midseason All-Star spectacle is no longer competitive, and daily chatter around the league still focuses on aging stars like LeBron James and Steph Curry.

The league’s decision to move forward on streaming exclusive games, particularly in the postseason (potentially including the conference finals, per Marchand), represents a bet that it can continue to cultivate a dedicated base of fans and viewers with a significant portion of its games on a streaming platform.

For Prime Video, the deal marks another splash into sports after deals with the NFL, WNBA, NWSL and Overtime Elite. The high volume of inventory the NBA calendar represents will be a more consistent opportunity for Prime Video to build a network and brand around live sports.

As Marchand notes in his report, this is a landmark moment in sports media history. And the NBA is not done yet.

[The Athletic]

About Brendon Kleen

Brendon is a Media Commentary staff writer at Awful Announcing. He has also covered basketball and sports business at Front Office Sports, SB Nation, Uproxx and more.