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Sunday, April 14, 2024
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NBA Games Eyed for Max’s Potential Live Sports Tier

  • Warner Bros. Discovery could add a sports tier to its Max streaming service.
  • NBA, MLB, and NHL games would be available to simulcast on TNT and Max.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The idea of the Max streaming service (formerly HBO Max) as a regular destination for live sports has picked up steam. 

On Thursday’s earnings call, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav announced that the company has been considering a sports tier for the platform with a simple but surprising comment: “We own the digital rights to our sports.” 

While it was known that some of WBD’s sports deals included streaming capabilities, the idea of NBA games being available to stream on Max is a novel one. The current NBA rights deal was signed in 2016 — four years before HBO Max launched — and also before Turner Sports parent Time Warner was acquired by AT&T and eventually spun off into Warner Bros. Discovery in 2022.

WBD confirmed to Front Office Sports that all of its sports contracts — NBA, MLB, NHL, the NCAA tournament, and U.S. soccer — do indeed include digital rights, but declined to comment further. A source told FOS that the NBA and WBD are in discussions regarding simulcasts on Max.

WBD’s current NBA contract runs through 2025 and the company is negotiating to extend its NBA deal amid several other suitors. Meanwhile, ESPN confirmed to FOS it also has the rights to simulcast any game on any platform, including ESPN+.

While WBD could theoretically start simulcasting NBA, NHL, or MLB games on Max at any moment, there are plenty of complicating factors. WBD must manage relationships with its cable provider partners — who could be opposed to sports fans bypassing them to watch games. 

So far, the only live sports Max has streamed have been U.S. soccer matches.

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