The NBA’s current media deals expire after the 2024-25 season and the league is expecting a significant increase in annual payouts from their broadcasting partners.
According to a 2021 report, the NBA is looking to triple its rights fees from $2.6 billion annually to between $7 and $8 billion annually.
As for how that’s going to happen, it remains to be seen. ESPN/ABC is almost certainly going to remain in the mix, though not without stiff competition. NBC reportedly wants back in while Warner Bros. Discovery has waffled on its interest. And then there’s all of the requisite interest from streamers like Amazon.
NY Post sports media reporter Andrew Marchand stopped by The Ariel Helwani Basketball Show this week to provide some updates on what he’s hearing and expecting.
Is the NBA on NBC making a comeback?! ?
I discuss that + all things NBA media rights with the great @AndrewMarchand.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) June 27, 2023
“I would say TNT goes to Tuesday,” said Marchand, speculating about how the next media deal might shake out. “Thursday is Amazon. Possibly Apple, but Thursday Amazon. ESPN cuts down on the amount of games they have in terms of regular season, but still a lot… The in-season tournament, not sure yet.”
Marchand added that he thinks NBC’s interest to get back into the NBA broadcasting game is legit, but they’ve got a fight on their hands from Amazon.
“NBC is a player,” said Marchand. “I think they’re gonna fight with TNT for Tuesday. It’s possible they could try to do Sunday Night Basketball after Sunday Night Football.”
NBC’s last NBA telecast came in 2002, but enough time has passed for the network to rekindle dreams of Roundball Rock.
As far as the streamers go, Marchand explains why Amazon has such a vested interest in trying to get NBA games for Thursday nights, though they’re not alone.
“You won’t have Thursday night basketball until the football season ends and you’re not competing with it,” said Marchand. “Then Amazon tries to own Thursday nights. There’s a relationship there, but Apple is serious. They’re serious about the NBA. So, I mean, that’s a big fight. And maybe they do something with both of them.”
The NY Post reporter is speculating, of course, but he also tends to have a good idea of what’s happening behind the scenes, in spite of what Tom Brady, The Rock, and Pat McAfee might want you to think.
There’s still a lot to suss out, including what happens to the in-season tournament and whether or not some playoff games might end up behind a paywall. While the current agreement is due to expire in 2025, we’ll start learning about bids and agreements long before that.