NBA champion Denver Nuggets and Nikola Jokic Jun 12, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) holds the Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP Award with his daughter Ognjena Jokic after the Nuggets won the 2023 NBA Championship against the Miami Heat at Ball Arena. Looking on is Denver guard Jamal Murray (27) holds the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Marchand of The Athletic has the latest on NBA broadcast rights talks, including the news that the league is looking to treat its All-Star game, In-Season Tournament and playoffs as distinct big properties with bidders.

It sounds like the NBA is countering networks’ lack of interest in regular season games by amping up its focus on those marquee properties, according to Marchand on the latest episode of the Sports Media with Richard Deitsch podcast.

“Everyone wants less regular season games, they don’t want the regular season,” Marchand said. “The question that’s facing the NBA is do they have enough prime real estate? Playoffs … All-Star game … In-Season Tournament, to break it into three entities. That seems like they could do that.”

However, Marchand worries the league’s emphasis on the In-Season Tournament (which just scored a sponsorship deal with Emirates) could further its problems generating interest around the regular season.

“The problem with the In-Season Tournament … is it does devalue the rest of the regular season,” Marchand argued. “We’re saying these regular season games are kind of more important and they mean something, alright let’s go back to our regularly scheduled programming. And that’s their problem.”

As for the horse race among linear networks and streamers bidding for NBA rights, ESPN may be the only lock.

“I’d be shocked if ESPN didn’t have it,” Marchand said. “For TNT Sports, they have a very good chance of keeping it, but I wouldn’t say definite. I think NBC could get in there. And I think Amazon is the most likely streamer.”

Amazon has long been the streamer most commonly linked to the NBA, but Marchand believes they have a line in the sand.

“They’re going to be disciplined,” Marchand said of Prime Video. “Obviously they are going to pay a lot of money for it, but if they don’t get it, they would move on and go from there.”

From an NBA standpoint, partnering with a streamer like Prime Video or Apple has obvious value. They have more access to data on their fans, and they can upgrade their digital infrastructure, including the League Pass product.

Still, the sports industry is not yet to a point where it can cut bait entirely with the likes of ABC or NBC.

“It’s a very tough thing, because you want the money but you always have to have the visibility,” Marchand explained.

Two things seem clear for the NBA after months of rumors: They will add additional broadcast partners and increase their broadcast revenue. Everything else is still up in the air.

[Sports Media with Richard Deitsch]

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.