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NBA Wants TV Partners to Pay $75 Billion, Three Times the Current Deal

The NFL struck a new 11-year, $100 billion TV deal with Disney, Amazon, NBC, CBS, and Fox last week. With that out of the way, sports business circles are turning their attention toward the NBA’s broadcast rights, which expire after the 2024-25 season. According to CNBC, the NBA will seek a $75 billion rights package, up from its current $24 billion deal.

Unlike the NFL, the NBA will have to do more than just name a price. Even if we disregard the record-low 2020 Finals held during the pandemic, broadcast NBA ratings are down an astounding 45% since 2012 and its cable trends are ugly. Younger NBA viewers are also increasingly consuming the league on social media, not in front of a TV screen. That said, an increase is still expected, even if it’s not by $50 billion.

Despite all the concerns regarding the NBA, the decline of linear TV has raised the value of live sports (see the NHL’s new deal with Disney).

As always, leverage will determine the final price, and the NBA will likely receive interest from suitors beyond Disney and AT&T, its current broadcast partners. Fox Sports was interested in landing the NBA before its last deal in 2014. NBC has an acclaimed history with the NBA. And, of course, Amazon’s move into the NFL sent a direct signal that streaming platforms — Amazon, ESPN+, Hulu, AppleTV+ — are here to play.

Former CBS Sports president Neal Pilson, however, isn’t expecting an exciting round of musical chairs. He predicts that the NBA will ultimately stay with its two current partners after talks conclude.

“I think the NBA will stay with the two network packages,” Pilson said. “That gives them the promotion base, and sometimes when you end up with lots of networks, people can’t find games when they’re on. College basketball is the best example — you want to see a game, and you don’t know where it is.”

Perhaps, but by 2025, a cable-heavy business model could be troubling, a problem Adam Silver spoke about two years ago:

“You’re really pushing a rock up a hill if you’ve lost 20 percent of your [cable] audience over the last four years, especially when…that young audience that we attract is disproportionately represented by that 20 percent,” Silver said.

Aside from a few games a week on ABC, much of the NBA regular season is distributed on cable via ESPN and Turner. Though the NBA is reportedly happy with both partners, it could find having more games on broadcast TV appealing. The league could expand its TV presence either by increasing the number of ABC broadcasts or adding a third partner.

For those asking, yes, the NBA also has a $1.5 billion streaming deal with Chinese-based company Tencent Holdings.

Early predictions are reckless, but I’ll go ahead and predict that the next NBA rights deal includes a strong presence of some sort on ESPN+, too. Book it.

Written by Bobby Burack

Bobby Burack covers any news story that deserves attention but focuses on media. His interests include reading Stephen King novels, avoiding traffic on the road, and pretending to solve true-crime mysteries. He still believes Cersei should've won and encourages everyone to always question the news.

23 Comments

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  1. Any increase to the current media right to NBA games has no rationale and logic whatsoever. The NBA games are historically unpopular, aesthetically difficult to watch, and have most consumers either tuning out or otherwise becoming completely uninterested in it. Why would ESPN pay so much for an unpopular product (the same argument that Clay had made for years) is incomprehensible. This also goes to show how little owners or players need to care to increase or multiply their wealth when they don’t even need to care put to together a decent product on the floor.

    • Well it made no sense for the nfl to see the deal it got either. One of the lowest rated SBs in years. Lowest rated games all year compared to previous years, all while people are stuck at home. Rhyme and reason means nothing anymore. Cut the chord with all cable and satellite companies. If you haven’t given up on sports(which you must hate yourself or be a protected minority then) stream em through third party apps.

    • Agree, SweetScience…nobody’s watching complete NBA games anymore except a small contingent of die hards. NBA thinks quantity over quality is the answer…nah, don’t agree…and like everybody has said here, the in your face chit and the preaching we’re all evil. Good strategy.
      I guess the NBA suits don’t want to face the realities of today and tomorrow when it comes to consuming sports. They’re trying the “next man up” strategy for their deal like when a QB signs a blockbuster deal, and the next QB expects even bigger and better when it’s his turn.
      We’ll see how that works for the ballers.

  2. Don’t underestimate how much an easy money supply is feeding into this. These corps are flush with cash right now and have near record high stock prices. They are better off signing overpriced contracts now and letting future CEOs worry about declining ratings.

  3. I’m sure the money will come in from somewhere…but it’s probably not from fans of the NBA in America.

    But I’d be willing to be most games are going to be under a mil ratings consistently…at least when LeFraud and Chicoms are in charge.

  4. Yeah i dont give a flying F about the NBA…no cable partially because of you, and LeBron the liar about his house graffiti…basketball outside of the second half of March is a dead sport

  5. All caps LOL. The NBA thinking they are actually growing domestically is laughable in the highest degree. At this rate they will actually be a Chinese-based organization in about 10 years. I feel bad for all the little kids out there who love playing ball like I did/do.

  6. The NBA has done everything they could to alienate middle America for a couple of years. Their sucking up to China was the last straw for me. That they did that while plastering BLM propaganda across TV screens.

    The NBA is completely dead to me. Basketball ends after NCAA.

  7. Haven’t paid attention for 4 years now political opinions don’t belong in sports they can all kiss my ass wouldn’t watch it for free or if nothing else was on turning off the Tv is a better option #FucktheNBAandLebron

  8. I will never again pay for a cable package or any other tv package that comes with MSESPN. And if a company way over pays for the fringe league NBA which is just a rigged league that only kids and ultra woke liberals watch, then I will avoid that company like the plague too. I will never support woke liberals who themselves support tearing down this country.

  9. The fake protesting Communist Chinese government ball licking drama queen bitches of the NBA are a sinking shitshow. Just move the league to China and be done with it.
    I really used to love the NBA, but over the past ten years, they have destroyed the league. Shitty unwatchable play and anti Americanism have ruined it.

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