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Report: NBA ready to sell US$1bn exclusive domestic streaming package

Basketball league seeking to attract big players such as Amazon and Apple.

1 November 2022 Ed Dixon

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  • NBA could settle for four to five-year deal
  • Package may feature 20 to 40 games
  • League reportedly seeking US$75bn from new rights deals

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is looking to sell an exclusive streaming package in its next domestic broadcast agreements with a target of securing at least US$1 billion for the rights, according to Front Office Sports (FOS).

Under the league’s current contract, signed in 2014, streaming rights are held by its own media platforms, ESPN, TNT and the regional sports networks (RSNs) showing local games.

However, the NBA is reportedly targeting a whopping US$75 billion for its next rights cycle from 2025, up from its current US$24 billion arrangement, and hopes an exclusive streaming package will attract big players such as Amazon or Apple. Both have been active in the US sports rights space in recent years, snapping up packages for the likes of the National Football League (NFL) and Major League Baseball (MLB) respectively.

As for the size of the NBA’s streaming package, FOS reports that it could start from between 20 to 40 games during the league’s 19-week regular season and offer a shorter deal lasting four to five years to entice bidders. That equates to one or two games a week.

It is expected that ESPN and TNT would also want games for their own streaming platforms. Additionally, FOS notes that the NBA’s incumbent media partners can use their back-end rights for leverage. As a result, the games are likely to be taken from the inventory controlled by RSNs.

SportsPro says…

The NBA is probably hoping for a bidding war akin to what the NFL is going through for its Sunday Ticket package of out-of-market games – Apple, Amazon and Disney are all in the running for that.

After signing a deal with Microsoft, valued at US$70 million a year according to IEG, bringing in another technology giant to the NBA ecosystem would be seen as a win not just for the league, but also the companies wanting to build out their streaming platforms. According to FOS, Amazon ‘has made it clear’ it wants an NBA package to go with its NFL offering. Prime Video is already seeing the impact of broadcasting the leading North American basketball property, signing a multi-year to air the NBA in Brazil.

Given the league has quickly embraced digital platforms and new technologies, Apple also seems a good fit on paper. The technology behemoth, though, favours flexibility with its rights, rather than being a standard broadcast partner – something which has reportedly slowed talks with the NFL. However, the NBA may favour this more collaborative approach, as well as the potential to incorporate the league into the vast Apple ecosystem, as will be the case for Major League Soccer (MLS)

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