The NBA’s TV deal with its pre-existing contractors is nearing its end, with several major companies interested in acquiring its broadcast rights for their streaming services.
Apple, Amazon and NBC Universal have all shown an interest in acquiring NBA content to its streaming platforms, Apple’s ‘Apple TV’, Amazon’s ‘Amazon Prime’, and NBC Universal’s ‘Peacock’.
The existing TV deals with Disney and Warner Bros Discovery don’t end until April 2024 and have the right to first option bidding with the basketball association, meaning none of the aforementioned companies can begin to negotiate with the NBA before the April 2024 date.
However, Disney and Warner Bros Discovery do have the option to waive their exclusive negotiation rights before the date, which would leave the door open for Apple, Amazon and NBC Universal to begin talks with the NBA.
Disney is reportedly keen to renegotiate its broadcast rights deal to show live NBA games on ABC and ESPN, and due to Turner Sports recently re-upping the contracts of its ‘Inside The NBA’ hosts (Ernie Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, and Kenny Smith) last November, it suggests Warner Bros Discovery is also looking to renegotiate with the NBA.
But it is not out of the realm of possibility that NBA would licence its broadcast rights to dedicated streaming services in the next wave of negotiations.
Streaming platforms such as Amazon Prime and Apple TV have become a part of the huge wave of streaming adoption models that have exploded in popularity over the past several years.
The NBA is one of the US’ most popular sports, with it also garnering a massive following across the rest of the world over the past decade, a lucrative opportunity for first-time bidders such as Apple and Amazon to explore.
NBC are looking into gaining NBA broadcast rights back after a 20-year hiatus and have reportedly informed the NBA of their interest.
Furthermore, NBC are eyeing the possibility of exclusively showing live NBA regular season games on Peacock which has been of interest to the NBA, with TV viewership of regular season games declining year upon year, along with the popularity of streaming.
An NBA spokesperson clarified no talks have taken place with NBC Universal but added that it has had a “longtime relationship with Comcast/NBA as a previous NBA national TV rightsholder”.
There is the chance of a repeat of the last round of NBA TV negotiations back in 2014, where the NBA decided to mute any outside bidders and re-up with its existing partners, Disney and Warner Bros Discovery.