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Monday, May 27, 2024

NBA Playoffs Providing Showcase For League’s Next Media Rights Deal

  • Incumbent partners ESPN, TNT will have competition from other bidders.
  • NBC, Amazon have shown interest in becoming NBA media partners.
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA playoffs have reached the Eastern and Western Conference finals at a tipping point for the league’s upcoming negotiations for future media rights deals.

Although ESPN, which will air Game 4 of the Lakers-Nuggets series Monday night, and TNT, which hosts the Celtics-Heat Game 4 on Tuesday night, have become synonymous with the NBA, they’ll have fierce competition to retain their media rights when negotiations can begin  in 2024.

David Zaslav, CEO of TNT parent Warner Bros. Discovery, recently said at a conference that he was hopeful to get a deal done with the NBA, but admitted it would “probably look a little bit different” than its current pact — which includes national primetime games throughout the regular season and rights to playoff series in every round except the NBA Finals.

Former NBA media partner NBC and streamer Amazon both appear to be interested in acquiring broadcasting packages, giving the league an opportunity to expand its reach to more platforms like the NFL, which spreads its U.S. rights across six companies.

One company not joining the bidding war is Fox: CEO Lachlan Murdoch said the network is “highly unlikely” to show interest.

Any new NBA media deals wouldn’t start until the fall of 2025, but it’s looking more and more like the status quo for basketball viewing is going to change sooner rather than later.

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