Sunday, July 21, 2024

NBA inching closer to $76 billion in media rights deals

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The NBA is inching closer to closing a series of media rights deals worth a total of $76 billion, even as uncertainty continues to swirl around the league’s future with longtime partner Turner Sports.

NBCUniversal, Amazon Prime Video and Disney/ESPN have finalized their packages, a person familiar with the negotiations told Deadline. The 11-year deals will begin after the 2024-25 season.

A series of press reports have linked media and tech companies to the NBA for several weeks. The delay in a formal announcement from the league or media partners was due to Turner and its parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery, looking for ways to retain the rights after nearly four decades. While Turner appears to be on the outside looking in, it reportedly has equivalent rights and is looking to match Amazon’s offer, which is for a smaller portion of games. Prime Video, as it did with the NFL’s Thursday Night Football package, aims to present itself in a somewhat limited way as an exclusive streaming destination.

The Athletic NBCU/Amazon/Disney first reported the news, saying that contracts with those three will be ratified by NBA owners and then forwarded to WBD for review. Since taking the helm of the company as CEO in 2022, David Zaslav has systematically cut billions in costs, at times baiting the creative community by abandoning completed projects in the name of tax breaks or other financial gains. When asked about the rights situation, he made headlines at a 2023 investor conference by saying, “We don’t need the NBA.” Charles Barkley, co-host of TNT’s popular studio show Inside the NBAhas criticized the company for its handling of rights negotiations, which began with an exclusive window during which WBD could have reached a renewal.

But at the Allen & Co. conference in Sun Valley on Wednesday, Zaslav said the company has overlapping rights and intentions to try to leverage them. The company has a unique position in the NBA, not only as a longtime rights holder but also as the media company that operates the website as well as the technical and production sides of the NBA TV cable channel.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, long before negotiations, said he believed $75 billion, roughly three times the level of previous rights deals, was a realistic target.

Neither party would comment when contacted by Deadline.

More to come…


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