By Callum Williams, Insider Sport — The inaugural NBA in-season tournament this season has piqued the interest of executives at Netflix and are considering bidding for live rights to games.
This is according to Sports Business Journal sources close on the matter as Netflix continues to gauge whether to enter the live sports broadcast market, having already shown interest in the NBA.
In-season tournament games – which began its first iteration two weeks ago – are broadcasted on ESPN, ABC and TNT as part of the current TV deal between the league and broadcasters.
However, negotiations for the next rights cycle of NBA broadcast rights is set to begin in March next year as Disney/ESPN and Warner Bros Discovery/TNT will have a 45 day exclusive window to renegotiate.
It remains unclear how the NBA in-season tournament games will be shared between broadcasters, potentially opening itself up for outside broadcasters and streaming platforms, such as Netflix, to enter the negotiations.
Netflix Co-CEO Ted Sarandos has repeatedly played down talks of the streaming giant entering the live sports broadcasting space, unlike competitors Amazon Prime and Apple TV.
Sarandos reiterated this last summer, stating: “Our position in live sports remains unchanged. We’re super excited about the success of our sports-adjacent programming.”
Sports Business Journal sources revealed that Netflix’s interest in the NBA may only extend to the sports docuseries venture it has doubled-down in recent years, such as popular shows F1’s ‘Drive To Survive’ and the NFL ‘Quarterback’ series.
However, a report by CNBC in October revealed that Sarandos’ live sports broadcasting stance is “softening” and that such a move to obtain NBA broadcast rights as “industry-shaking”.
If Netflix were to be interested in obtaining NBA in-season tournament rights, not only would this add extra incentives for fans to watch the new tournament on a giant streaming platform, it would also help the league’s goal in maximising the total value of its upcoming broadcast deal.
Whilst all signs point to Disney and Warner Bros Discovery renewing their valuable NBA broadcast rights, Commissioner Adam Silver has admitted he is monitoring the decline of traditional cable TV viewers and has revealed he is a fan of the Amazon Thursday night deal it has with the NFL.