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Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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Silver Concerned About Young Fans Finding NBA Games

  • Commissioner sees league as disproportionately impacted by media disruption
  • Next set of rights to likely include mix of linear, streaming partners
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The collapse of regional sports networks and accelerating cord-cutting is impacting every major sports league, but the NBA believes its younger fan base has made the league’s situation even worse.

“We recognize that, in some ways, the decline of cable has disproportionately impacted the NBA,” commissioner Adam Silver told Yahoo Sports. “Our young audience isn’t subscribing to cable, and those fans aren’t finding our games.”

Silver’s comments arrive at a particularly delicate time for the league, which is now in the market for a new set of domestic media rights deals at a reported goal of $75 billion.

On a local level, teams such as the Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns have already moved to broadcast-based models due to the rapid changes in the RSN market. Many of the same issues the NBA is grappling with are also significantly coloring Disney’s ongoing search for potential equity partners for ESPN, a key league partner.

To address the shifts, Silver said the next set of national rights deals will involve a mix of broadcast, cable, and streaming partners — reconfirming growing expectations in the market. 

“There are still roughly 65 million homes in America that are consuming sports in a very traditional way, and even more people on network TV. Is that declining? Yes. Is that going away anytime soon? I don’t believe so. So we want to be on all those platforms,” Silver said.

Among the particularly notable streaming contenders for NBA rights is Amazon, which wants to create a NBA version of its successful “Thursday Night Football” offering — which draws an average viewer eight years younger than the NFL’s linear average.

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