NBA Rights Chase Will Reportedly Draw Hefty NBCUniversal Bid, With Amazon Looking To Lock League’s First National Streaming Deal

The NBA’s new round of rights negotiations has reportedly lured NBCUniversal back to the league after an absence of more than two decades.

NBCU is planning to bid $2.5 a year for rights to the games, according to the Wall Street Journal. If the offer is successful, the company would supplant media rival Warner Bros. Discovery, whose TBS and TNT cable networks began carrying NBA games in 1988. TNT has been the flagship Turner network associated with pro basketball, with its Inside the NBA the gold standard of sports studio shows, since 1989.

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Disney, meanwhile, has solidified its position as the other linear partner for the NBA. Along with WBD, Disney had an exclusive window during which to try to hammer out a renewal and appears to have prevailed. The window ended earlier this month, allowing other companies to make bids. While WBD has not locked down the rights, the Journal said the company is making a “last-ditch effort” to try to retain the rights.

Amazon’s Prime Video, meanwhile, has reportedly reached a framework for a deal with NBA that resembles its share of NFL rights. The streaming outlet has exclusive rights to Thursday Night Football, making it a smaller but potent player and reducing the pool of games for traditional companies. The divvying up of NBA rights is said to be likely to follow along similar lines.

Current rights deals expire after the 2024-25 season.

Reps from NBCU, WBD and Prime Video did not immediately respond to Deadline’s request for comment.

Sports rights, especially for top-tier leagues, are seen as essential properties given they are virtually the only events viewed live and therefore regarded as valuable by advertisers.

In a sign of the times, broadcast TV is playing a bigger role in this round of negotiations, following two decades of most NBA games being found on cable. NBCU’s bid, the Journal reported, is said to involve NBC as a key asset, along with Peacock, whose NFL streams have seen success in recent months.

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