It might take a while for Diamond Sports Group to make a decision about which NBA local rights it will keep for the 2023-24 season and beyond, but potential suitors are already circling for a chance to snag its content.
Major media and technology companies such as Disney, Apple, Amazon, YouTube, and DirecTV are all reportedly interested in obtaining local streaming rights to the NBA should DSG opt to reject a “critical mass” of the 15 teams it currently carries.
There still are several key steps before DSG, the bankrupt parent of Bally Sports, gets to that point. As the company is seeking to complete a reorganization plan, it is first trying to complete carriage renewals with Comcast, DirecTV, and Spectrum under mounting pressure from DSG lenders.
Without those distribution deals, DSG’s long-term survival is more tenuous, and the likelihood of the local NBA rights’ availability increases. Already, DirecTV told a U.S. bankruptcy court that DSG “should not assume” a carriage renewal will happen.
The NBA is actively monitoring the situation, while the Phoenix Suns already parted ways with DSG and may ultimately convince others.
The league has additional complications regarding any replacement, as streaming-based scenarios would almost certainly be less valuable than a rejected DSG deal. MLB is promising at least 80% of lost RSN revenue from DSG’s rejection of the San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks, but the fluidity of the entire DSG saga renders the NBA’s plans in a similar situation uncertain.
The NBA’s local rights consideration also intersects with the ongoing sale of its next round of national rights, a cycle heightening the existing rivalry between Disney CEO Bob Iger and Comcast chairman/CEO Brian Roberts, and perhaps involving some of the same streaming entities.
This season, the NBA will also likely be shown on Max’s forthcoming new sports tier.