NBA Exclusive Negotiating Window With ESPN, TNT Likely To Close With No New Deal

The NBA is in the midst of media rights talks with Disney (ESPN/ABC) and Warner Bros. Discovery (TNT), during those companies’ exclusive negotiating window, but it does not appear a deal will be reached within that time frame, per Alex Sherman of CNBC.Adam Silver, NBA News

Disney and Warner Bros. have until Monday to complete a new contract before other outlets can make their bid. Since that doesn’t seem to be the case, the NBA is set to begin conversations with other potential broadcast partners and streaming services.

Now, before you get too excited, just know that the NBA is likely to continue to be carried by ESPN and TNT. The league and the networks will continue their negotiations. But now, games will potentially be broadcast or streamed elsewhere as well.

Amazon, NBCUniversal, Netflix, YouTube TV and Apple are among those said to be in the mix.

“While no agreement is expected to be announced by the deadline, Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery both continue to work on terms with the league, an NBA spokesperson confirmed,” Sherman wrote. “The NBA would like to bring in at least one new partner to serve as a flagship streamer, CNBC reported last year. The league wants a “robust” streaming partner that will use marketing and reach to make the games a priority on their platform, CNBC reported.”

The NBA did provide a comment to CNBC, saying through a spokesperson that the league continues “to have productive discussions with Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery on a renewal of our media deals.”

Interestingly, the last time NBA media rights became available was a decade ago. ESPN and TNT renewed their agreement five months before the negotiating window even opened. But that was 2014 and times have changed.

“This time, the discussions with Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery are more complicated because of the likely addition of a third party,” Sherman wrote. “Both Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery aren’t eager to lose the rights they already have. Still, the league is looking for a large increase in fees, and neither company wants to carry the full burden of paying significantly more for what they already have, according to people familiar with the negotiations.

“That allows for the league to bring in another party — or possibly even two more.”

The NBA is expected to seek in the neighborhood of $75 billion for its next media rights package, per multiple reports.

“I would say that all of the leading technology companies are interested in the NBA. Amazon is just one of them. I think Apple, I think Google. All of them,” former NBA and ESPN executive John Kosner said back in October, via Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports.

“And keep in mind the definition of what’s a ‘rights package’ going forward doesn’t have to be what we grew up with. A company like Discord (a social platform with 150 million monthly users) could become an NBA rights holder at some point, too. I think they’re all interested.”

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