NBA wants ‘many more’ media partners amid shifting sports landscape, league executive says

The NBA has a clear strategy when it comes to sports media rights: it aims to have widespread visibility and reach a broad audience.

According to Mark Tatum, deputy commissioner of the NBA, the league recognizes that fans consume NBA content in various ways, and their goal is to ensure that the NBA is accessible to fans, regardless of how they consume sports content.

Tatum made these remarks in an interview with Yahoo Finance on Monday. The NBA is currently engaged in extensive negotiations for its next media rights package, which is rumored to be valued at up to $76 billion.
The current contract between the league and Warner Bros.’ TNT Network (WBD) and Disney’s ESPN (DIS) is set to expire at the end of the upcoming season. There have been rumors circulating that WBD, who currently pays $1.2 billion annually, may lose the media rights to their portion of games to Comcast’s NBCUniversal (CMCSA). Additionally, Amazon (AMZN) is in talks for an exclusive streaming deal through Prime Video.

According to Tatum, the league recognizes the expanding options in the media landscape and the need to form partnerships with various platforms including social and digital media, streaming services, and traditional media outlets. Tatum did not provide any details on the negotiations for media rights but highlighted the trend of increased options and personalization in sports consumption. As a result, the league plans to adopt a more hybrid approach to enhance visibility.
“There is still a significant role for traditional television,” he emphasized. “We appreciate the fact that our finals are broadcasted on traditional network television. However, we also recognize that a new generation of fans consumes content through streaming platforms. Therefore, we want to ensure that our programming and content are available across all channels.”

Media companies are highly interested in sports content as it attracts a large and dedicated audience. This enables sports leagues to drive up the price of broadcasting rights during negotiations.

According to the Wall Street Journal, NBCUniversal has submitted a bid of approximately $2.5 billion, more than double the amount currently paid by WBD. The network is close to finalizing a deal with the league to broadcast around 100 games per season, with half of them exclusively available on its streaming service, Peacock.
According to the report, Disney, one of the NBA’s main broadcast partners, has agreed to renew its media rights deal by increasing its payment from $1.5 billion to $2.6 billion per year. While Disney will carry fewer games compared to its current package, it will have the opportunity to stream games on its upcoming ESPN streaming platform, scheduled to launch in fall 2025.

In addition, Amazon is reportedly close to securing a streaming rights package through its Prime Video service for $1.8 billion. This package would include regular season and playoff games, the league’s play-in tournament, and a share of the conference finals, which would rotate between the media partners.

It is important to note that WBD has the option to match any third-party offers before the NBA finalizes any official agreements.

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