Latest On NBA’s Media Rights Negotiations

The NBA is expected to formalize written contracts this week with Disney (ESPN/ABC), NBC, and Amazon for their media rights, according to Tom Friend of Sports Business Journal, who provides the following tentative details on the three deals:

  • ESPN/ABC (“A” package): $2.8 billion per year; likely to include NBA Finals, one conference final, weekly prime-time games, the WNBA, and shared international rights.
  • NBC (“B” package): $2.6 billion per year; likely to include “Basketball Night in America” on Sundays, two prime-time windows per week, conference semifinals, and one conference final.
  • Amazon (“C” package): $1.8-2 billion per year; likely to include the in-season tournament, the play-in tournament, first-round playoff games, the WNBA, and shared international rights.

The parties are in the process of tweaking their agreements, says Friend, explaining that once the terms are finalized, the networks will take them to their respective boards to have the bids ratified. At that point, the NBA is expected to circle back to longtime television partner Warner Bros. Discovery (TNT Sports) to see if WBD wants to exercise its matching rights on NBC’s offer.

According to Friend, the expectation is that the NBA will argue that TNT doesn’t have the right to simply match NBC’s bid from a dollar-for-dollar perspective, since TNT lacks the over-the-air broadcast infrastructure that NBC can offer. Previous reporting stated that the league would want at least $300MM more from Warner Bros. Discovery for the same package of games that NBC is bidding on.

As Friend details, if Warner Bros. Discovery doesn’t want to lose the NBA and isn’t willing to pay that added cost for the “B” package, the company could take the NBA to court and contest the league’s definition of what constitutes a matching offer. Sources tell the Sports Business Journal that the NBA is preparing its lawyers for a potential inquisition or lawsuit.

Disney was more proactive than WBD during the exclusive negotiating window that ESPN/ABC and TNT Sports were afforded earlier this year, per Friend, increasing its offer to $2.8 billion per year after paying $1.4 billion in its last deal with the NBA.

WBD, meanwhile, believed it would only have to bump its offer from $1.2 billion in the previous media deal to about $1.8-2.1 billion this time around, according to Friend, who says that’s a key reason why the NBA took that package of games to the open marketplace and found a more appealing offer from NBC.

The league’s current media rights deal will expire after the 2024/25 season, with the new agreement taking effect in ’25/26.

View Comments (16)