By Callum Williams, InsiderSport — The NBA is approaching the end of its current media rights deal and sources from inside the league are looking to Amazon to organise a package deal similar to the NFL’s ‘Thursday Night Football (TNF)’.
The NBA media rights deal ends after the 2024-25 season and whilst the league will hold exclusive talks with its incumbent broadcasters – ABC/ESPN and Warner Bro’s Discovery – Amazon Prime has emerged as a potential Tuesday or Thursday landing spot for games.
According to Front Office Sports, the NBA is seeking to run its own version of NFL’s TNF with Amazon after the early success of the deal between the e-commerce giant and the football league.
Agreeing a $1bn-per-season deal, which runs until 2033, TNF on Amazon Prime has garnered an average of 12.9m TV equivalent viewers this season alone, with the streaming platform also holding vast potential in drawing younger audiences.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has made no secret of his interest in Amazon, having previously admitted he was “fascinated” with the streaming platform’s work with the NFL on TNF.
Likewise, Amazon has shown interest in acquiring media rights for the next next rights cycle. Prime Video currently already has a deal in place with the league to showcase games in Brazil which began at the beginning of the 2022-23 season.
The next media rights cycle will see the NBA reportedly looking for a total valuation figure between $50bn – $75bn that would secure the league’s long-term future well into the 2030’s, and they are certainly not without options.
Along with Amazon, Apple and NBC Universal have also reportedly expressed interest in picking up rights. Google/YouTube have recently embarked on a deal with the NFL for its NFL Sunday Ticket package and could look to the NBA to bolster its sports broadcast offering.
Whilst ABC/ESPN and Warner Bro’s Discovery will be given first right talks with the league to re-up their pre-existing deals, sources told Front Office Sports that the league could negotiate with three to five media partners to maximise the total valuation.
Then there is the intriguing development of ESPN’s new streaming push with ESPN+. The US sports broadcaster has been engaging in talks with the NBA, as well as the NFL and MLB, in discussing whether the three major sports leagues are interested in acquiring a stake in its revamp of ESPN+.
ESPN is aiming to launch its direct-to-consumer streaming service in 2025 and is seeking to land out-of-market NBA, NFL and MLB games to land on the new streaming service.
With the exclusive first rights negotiation window for ABC/ESPN and Warner Bro’s Discovery due to end in early 2024, time to secure those deals is running thin.
If a deal cannot be met with the NBA and the two networks, then the NBA’s broadcast could see a major overhaul in its approach over the next decade.