NBA Expected To Finalize Media Rights Deal With NBC, Say Goodbye To TNT

The NBA is expected to finalize media rights deals with Disney-owned ESPN and ABC this week, as well as Amazon Prime and, yes, NBC Sports, per Tom Friend of Sports Business Journal.

All sides could formalize a written agreement this week.

That will mean no more TNT, owned by Warner Bros. Discovery, or its hit pre- and postgame show, Inside The NBA, starring Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, Ernie Johnson and Shaquille O’Neal. If so, the 2024-25 season would be the last for TNT.

In short, NBC Sports apparently has outbid TNT for the next media rights package. It will carry select games, both on TV and its Peacock streaming service. ESPN/ABC will remain, with Amazon Prime streaming select games, just as it currently does with the NFL.

“Industry sources believe ESPN will ultimately pay $2.8B annually — though other industry sources insist it is still an earlier reported $2.6B — for the league’s ‘A’ package, which includes the NBA Finals, a conference final, weekly primetime games, the WNBA and likely shared international rights,” Friend wrote.

“NBC’s proposed ‘B’ package is believed to be now worth $2.6B annually — up from a reported $2.5B — and would probably include a ‘Basketball Night in America’ on Sunday nights following the NFL season, a total of two primetime windows a week, conference semifinals and a conference final. Amazon’s deal is believed to be worth between $1.8B and $2B and would likely include the Emirates In-Season Tournament, the SoFi Play-In Tournament, first-round playoff games, the WNBA and international rights.”

This would be quite a change for the league and its broadcast partners, especially the part about NBC. Interestingly, Friend reported that Warner Bros. Discovery could take the NBA to court over the matter and that the league may be preparing its lawyers for a potential inquisition or even lawsuit.

Interestingly, NBA TV ratings aren’t as high as they used to be — far from it. But sports rights are highly profitable for networks, typically bringing in loads of advertising.

As one TV insider told Hoops Wire: “The networks and streaming services aren’t as concerned with eyeballs as they are with advertisers, and (advertisers) really just want to be part of the game and feel like they’re part of what of the cool kids are doing. They’re spending money and lots of it just to be considered cool. The actual ratings are very overrated in today’s world. They have money to burn. They don’t care about that.”

No matter how you spin it, this will be considered a big win for NBA commissioner Adam Silver, and frankly, his biggest victory to date once the deal goes down.

The NBA was broadcast by NBC Sports in the 1990s to early 2000s before moving to TNT.

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