Dan Le Batard discusses the upcoming NBA media rights deal. Screen grab: ‘The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz’

Like many, Dan Le Batard has observed the myriad of challenges the NBA has faced in recent years, including (but not limited to) load management, inconsistent officiating, a lackluster All-Star weekend, star players appearing perpetually unhappy and a fanbase that increasingly consumes the product through social media instead of television.

So, as the league prepared to negotiate its next media rights deal, it seemed reasonable to expect such issues to be reflected in the price point, especially considering that many of them directly impact its television product.

But as the NBA’s next media rights deal comes into focus, the league isn’t just improving its deal—it’s set to double it. Admitting that he misjudged the league’s financial outlook, Le Batard attributed the NBA’s sizable pay raise to the state of the streaming wars.

“Pre-streaming, I could have made the argument, ‘Uh-oh, basketball’s going to a dangerous place,'” Le Batard said. “But because all that matters here isn’t actually ratings, it’s not. It’s not even how many people you have in your arenas. It’s just can you get the TV money? The TV money is the rocket fuel for the entirety for the business and nothing else matters.

“Basketball’s going to get bailed out. The business of basketball’s going to get bailed out because they have legitimate problems, but you don’t have legitimate problems if you’ve got a sugar daddy that’s giving you billions and billions of dollars. And now there’s a billion war for these rights. Everybody seems to want them.”

To Le Batard’s point, the biggest thing the NBA seems to have working in its favor is that it has four suitors for three media rights packages, each with a unique desire to make a deal happen. That’s why Disney was apparently willing to pay more money for a package lesser than the one it previously owned, with Amazon making a sizable investment ($1.8 billion per year) to add to its growing sports portfolio.

That leaves Comcast (NBC) and Warner Bros. Discovery (TNT) fighting for what’s left, with NBC looking to get the NBA back on its airwaves (and Peacock streaming service) and TNT desperate to maintain its identity as the NBA’s home. And with WBD having matching rights on a potential deal, that’s left Comcast with no choice but to outbid its competition.

While it remains to be seen whether Comcast or WBD will win out, at this point, it’s clear that the NBA is going to get paid and then some. Considering the challenges the league has overcome to get to this point, it will be interesting to see how much—and for how long—the league’s new deal papers over them.

[The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.