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  • Writer's pictureDillon George

An Overview of the NBA’s Streaming Negotiations: How changing markets and new bidders may affect the league’s deal

By: Dillon George

March 26, 2024

Photo Credit: Sports Pro Media

Negotiations between the NBA, Disney, and Turner Network Television (TNT) have ramped up during the month of March. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver hopes to secure a record-breaking media rights deal for the league's broadcasts, and reports indicate that a renewed 10-year deal could be worth as much as $72 billion. For reference, the NBA's previous media rights deal (2014 through 2014) was worth just a third of that estimated figure ($24 billion in total).

The current value of the NBA’s international media rights is the highest among all U.S. sports leagues at a whopping $715M. Much of this value can be attributed to the league’s extremely strong social media presence, with 7 of the 10 most followed American athletes across all platforms hailing from the NBA (Sport Business Journal). Another factor which makes the NBA’s media rights so valuable is the league’s outstanding diversity and youth. In fact, as of the 2022-23 season, 56% of the league’s fans are under 44 years old, and 40% of them are non-white. In accordance with this statistic, a recent Playfly Fan Score study indicated that all demographics, especially ages 35-44, in the U.S. perceive the NBA as a league which is trending upward in popularity. 

However, the massive changes in the streaming landscape are the most important part of any potential media rights deal moving forward. Most notably, the recent bankruptcy of Diamond Sports - the holding company of America’s most prominent regional sports network (RSN), Bally Sports - has left nearly half of the NBA’s 30 teams hanging in limbo in regard to their future media rights revenue. This season, there was a 16% overall reduction in regional sports broadcasting revenue after many deals were revisited by the NBA and Bally. These teams have been granted a one-year bridge season (next season, for 2024-25) to either find a local over-the-air broadcast partner or negotiate a one-year deal with a Diamond-owned Bally RSN before the NBA’s new media rights deal begins in 2025-26. In terms of the national broadcasting circuit, the NBA’s new media rights deal will likely involve three “linear networks” (networks which operate their own streaming entity), with the leading candidates being Disney (ESPN/ABC), Turner (TNT), NBC, and Amazon (Amazon Prime Video) (Sport Business Journal). The NBA’s negotiating window with Disney and Turner ends on April 22nd, allowing them to talk with the other networks listed above for the time being. 

With traditional streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video beginning to dip their toes into the lucrative realm of live sports broadcasting, it will be interesting to see whether they are inserted into the framework of the NBA's media rights distribution moving forward. Whatever the case, the recent introduction of the NBA Cup and the league's expanded playoff format (a Play-In Tournament for seeds 7 through 10 to decide the final two playoff spots in each conference) will make this new deal a financial and logistical indicator of what the future of the sports media business looks like.


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