NBA In-Season Tournament Feb 18, 2023; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; The NBA logo on the court at Huntsman Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA is on a roll right now, in terms of higher attendance and TV ratings, so negotiations for a new TV package couldn’t be coming at a better time for the league.

And those negotiations may be about to enter an entirely new phase. CNBC reports the NBA’s exclusive TV rights negotiating window with Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery is set to expire without a new deal in place. That window ends April 22.

NBA executives are eyeing a new package in the $60 billion to $72 billion range, more than 2.5 times as much as the nine-year, $24 billion deal the league signed with Turner and Disney in 2014. That deal expires after the 2024-25 season.

Industry analysts have been predicting for some time that the league would add at least one additional partner, namely a prominent streaming partner. In an appearance last month on ESPN’s The Domonique Foxworth Show NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum confirmed that interest.

“Given the evolving media landscape, we’re likely to emerge from this window with at least one additional partner. As we think about our approach to this, it really is about accessibility,” Tatum said.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told Yahoo Sports last year that, “We recognize that, in some ways, the decline of cable has disproportionately impacted the NBA.”

There’s reportedly no shortage of interest among broadcasters in joining forces with the NBA. According to various reports, Amazon, Apple, NBCUniversal, Netflix and YouTube TV have expressed interest to the league about a partnership.

So what does all this mean for the NBA’s longtime broadcast partners, Disney’s ESPN/ABC and Warner Bros.’ TNT/TBS? ESPN and ABC have been doing NBA games since 2022, while TBS and TNT began in 1984 and 1988, respectively.

“Our incumbents are Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery. They’ve been fantastic partners of ours,” Tatum said on the Foxworth show.

But behind the scenes, ESPN/ABC and Turner are reportedly concerned about the NBA’s emphasis on streaming. Charles Barkley told Sports Illustrated‘s Jimmy Traina last year, “I know Turner is nervous, I know ESPN is nervous that Apple and Amazon are gonna come in and take some or all of the NBA packages. … the whole sports landscape in the NBA is gonna change in the next two years when Apple and Amazon start bidding on the NBA properties.”

On a recent podcast, Bill Simmons pointed out the NBA has seen the success the NFL has had streaming on Amazon, Peacock and YouTube.

“If I had to bet, I think it’s going to be bad for TNT. Because TNT is kind of the old school, past-tense way of doing this stuff,” Simmons said. “Amazon and Google/YouTube, it’s just a whole other animal for what they’re able to do. So we’ll see how it goes. But the point is, a lot of money’s coming.”

How much money, and the sources, remains to be seen regarding the new NBA rights deal, but for now, the league is in a very good negotiating position.

[CNBC]

About Arthur Weinstein

Arthur spends his free time traveling around the U.S. to sporting events, state and national parks, and in search of great restaurants off the beaten path.