Could the NBA make a return to NBC? More than two decades after the league fled the network, NBC reportedly wants to bring pro basketball back.

Per CNBC, NBCUniversal execs have talked to the league about their interest, and the company is seeking playoff games in a potential deal. Peacock could also air regular season games.

NBCUniversal executives have informed the NBA of their interest, said the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private. NBC Sports wants a package that would include playoff games to air on NBC’s broadcast network, two of the people said. Some regular season games could be exclusive to NBCUniversal’s streaming service, Peacock. The NBA could also decide to force media companies to simulcast all games on streaming to increase reach, the people said.

That note about the NBA potentially forcing companies to simulcast all games on a streaming platform would be a shift in how things are currently happening, with games only airing on streaming platforms with an authenticated login and not over the top access. In recent years, ESPN has been loosening that requirement, and made a number of games over various sports airing on ABC available on ESPN+.

Current NBA rightsholders Disney and Warner Bros Discovery have exclusive negotiating rights with the league through April of 2024, with those deals expiring following the 2024-25 season.

The timing makes sense for NBC to strike, two years after the company lost the NHL’s rights to Disney and WBD. It also makes sense because the future of the NBA on its current partners remains uncertain. Disney seems likely to retain an NBA package, but Bob Iger has talked about the need to cut costs. WBD’s interest, on the other hand, remains somewhat unclear. Back in November, CEO David Zaslav said “we don’t have to have the NBA” when talking about live sports rights, possibly indicating the company’s lack of desire to open up their wallet for the league.

CNBC also reports that Amazon and Apple have interest in streaming packages from the league, adding even more potential bidders to the fray.

This is good news for the NBA. The more interested parties, the more rights fees should rise.


About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.