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Friday, June 14, 2024

What Would TNT Sports Look Like Without NBA? Here’s What We Know

  • Warner Bros. Discovery has been making deals outside of basketball.
  • The company still has rights like the NHL, MLB, and March Madness.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

As the NBA inches toward the conclusion of its media-rights negotiations, the future of TNT Sports very much remains in limbo. However, even though not much has been confirmed about the financial plans in store for the sports division of Warner Bros. Discovery, some new reports are shedding light on what TNT Sports—which encompasses sports on the cable channels TNT, TBS, and truTV, and the streaming service Max—may look like without the NBA.

New Sports Incoming

Front Office Sports can confirm the multiple reports that TNT Sports has struck a deal to take over French Open broadcast rights in the U.S., which have been held by NBC Sports and the Tennis Channel, beginning next year. The TNT deal is said to be for 10 years and worth $650 million in total, sources told The Athletic. It would complement WBD’s tennis offerings across the pond, as the company also owns Eurosport, which has French Open rights in more than 50 countries.

But tennis would be another new sport for TNT Sports in the U.S., following the addition of some rights to the expanded College Football Playoff via a sublicensing deal with ESPN. In December, and in 2025, TNT Sports will air two first-round CFP games; in ’26, it will also show two CFP quarterfinal games. Financial terms of the CFP deal have not been released, but ESPN was said to have put a $25 million average value on the first-round games, and the network could be keeping all ad revenue from the playoff games on TNT Sports, according to Puck.

TNT Sports declined to comment on either the French Open or CFP reports when asked by FOS.

Portfolio Planning

WBD still has roughly $43 billion in debt stemming from its 2022 merger that CEO David Zaslav has to manage, and plenty of other expensive sports rights. Beyond the NBA, which has cost WBD some $1.2 billion per season under its current deal, TNT Sports also has billions of dollars annually tied to the NHL, MLB, and March Madness. WBD’s HBO also still produces several annual iterations of the NFL’s Hard Knocks series, among other sports content.

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