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NBA Reportedly Wants a Streaming Partner for Broadcast Rights Package

The exclusive negotiations between the National Basketball Association (NBA) and its current domestic media rights partners Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD), concluded on April 22, 2024, without a definitive agreement.

The NBA television contracts, estimated to be worth a combined US$24 billion and held by Disney's ESPN and WBD's TNT Sports, will terminate at the conclusion of the 2024/25 season. Both have expressed interest in renewing their contracts with the NBA. Even though an extension has not been reached after 45 days of negotiations between the league and its current partners, ESPN and WBD remain at the negotiating table.

According to CNBC, the NBA is now soliciting offers from additional potential suitors, including NBC, Amazon, Apple, Google, and Netflix, with all of these companies having engaged in preliminary discussions.

According to Sports Pro Media the league's annual domestic broadcast revenues could potentially triple or even double to $75 billion, a substantial increase from the value of its current contracts (24 billion).

According to a recent report in Sports Business Journal, Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery possess the authority to match any offer presented to the NBA by a rival company such as Amazon, Google (YouTube TV) or NBCUniversal. John Ourand of Puck News reported on May 7, 2024, Amazon, which has not signed a deal yet, is likely to end up with a slate of Saturday night games as well as the NBA’s In-Season Tournament and the postseason play-in games. Ourand also reports the deal is expected to include a conference finals series every other year as well as some additional playoff games on Amazon Prime Video.

Market Impact

The acquisition of sports media rights by streaming media services dominated the sports media landscape in 2023. The exclusive rights to transmit sporting events are eroding gradually away from traditional pay television.

Streaming platforms are consistently seeking exclusive and distinctive material, and they have identified live sporting events as an effective means to attract and retain their user bases. In the United States, live sports availability is a significant factor in the retention for pay-TV. 40% of US households with a legacy pay-TV subscription view sports on pay-TV. This is, in part, because sports rights have been skewed towards pay-TV arrangements with network broadcasters.

The NBA, which has the youngest demographic of all sports enthusiasts, according to Nielsen, understands its most important audience is the streaming generation. As such, the NBA has long envisioned a hybrid linear-digital model that could appeal to Amazon, Apple, Peacock, Netflix, Paramount, and YouTube TV subscribers.

An enticing multitiered arrangement with Amazon, for instance, could elevate the league’s international reach. Not only are the US rights up for renegotiation but the NBA’s global media rights are also concurrently being negotiated, and a league source said Amazon’s extensive worldwide audience is the exact prototype of what the league is seeking in a streaming entity according to SBJ's Tom Friend.

Parks Associates reported in 2022 the NBA is the 4th most watch sport in the US behind the NFL, MLB, and college football at 36% while in season.

Parks Associates Sports Research

Sports fans are streamers. Parks Associates anticipates those who watch live sports content on traditional pay TV will continue to decline as those who stream via OTT services will continue to increase, allowing the NBA to position themselves as a traditional broadcaster and a dominant streaming force in the sports media landscape will boost the appeal of the NBA as revenues continue to rise.

According to Parks Associates Q1 2024 survey, Amazon Prime Video is used by 55% of internet homes for streaming content.

 In April of 2017 Amazon acquired the rights to the NFL’s Thursday Night Football broadcast and continues to expand that partnership with exclusive Thanksgiving Day games and other NFL Network opportunities. Additionally, Amazon Prime Video has been securing rights to international soccer leagues including the UEFA League Championship and the Premier League. A partnership with NBA certainly complements the existing rights with the NFL and soccer to target sports streamers.

Parks Associates Amazon Prime Video Research


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