TNT Remains In Talks For Possible Fourth NBA Rights Package

The NBA appears to be nearing agreements on media rights deals with ESPN/ABC, NBC, and Amazon, but the league hasn’t yet closed the door on its longtime partnership with TNT Sports.

According to Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports, Warner Bros. Discovery (TNT’s parent company) is in talks with the NBA about a possible fourth rights package that would be smaller overall in terms of both total games and cost.

Those conversations are ongoing, so it’s unclear where the games for that potential fourth package would come from. McCarthy suggests it could feature both regular season and playoff games, which would likely mean taking games from one or more of the ESPN/ABC, NBC, and Amazon packages. Another scenario, McCarthy writes, would be for the league to set aside games that would typically be locally televised and turn them into national games for TNT.

McCarthy characterizes WBD’s efforts as a “long shot,” but outlines several reasons why a fourth media rights package with TNT could make sense for the NBA:

  • It would allow the league to continue its 40-year relationship with Turner Sports, which has been a reliable broadcast partner for decades.
  • It would pave the way for TNT to continue operating NBA TV and on behalf of the league.
  • It would allow for the ongoing survival of TNT’s popular “Inside the NBA” studio show, featuring Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, and Shaquille O’Neal.
  • Paying less money for a smaller package may appeal to Warner Bros. Discovery, which is dealing with $40 billion in debt and whose CEO David Zaslav has talked about not wanting to overpay for the NBA.

If TNT and the NBA can’t come to terms on a fourth package, Warner Bros. Discovery believes it would still have the right to match the NBC or Amazon deals. However, previous reporting has suggested the league would argue TNT can’t simply match NBC’s bid dollar-for-dollar since TNT lacks the over-the-air broadcast infrastructure that NBC can offer. The league may also push back on the idea that TNT can match Amazon’s bid, since it’s a new third package of games.

If TNT attempts to match one of those offers and the NBA rejects the bid, the issue could end up in court, McCarthy notes.

The current NBA media rights deal, which features just two partners (ESPN/ABC and TNT), will expire after the 2024/25 season, with the new agreements going into effect for ’25/26.

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