As the television deals are coming to a close in the near future, let’s take a look at some of the potential partners that are not currently partners for the next NBA television contract.
Amazon – The mega conglomerate already has the WNBA and the NBA’s Brazilian television partner already in their portfolio and has widely been considered the favorite for the potential home for anything that is not over-the-air. After not getting NFL Sunday Ticket package, they have opened themselves up for taking on the NBA on a broader scale. The company has shown that it will spend top dollar for sports as they have not only the NFL’s Thursday Night Package, but also they have exclusive deals with the New York Yankees and the English Premier League on top of going into the sports-talk space with shows on Prime Video and Freevee.
Obtaining the right to stream games on their platform might allow for the Regional Sports Networks to keep their partnerships with the existing teams in the same way that WNBA’s broadcasts are currently. League Pass is normally $199 for the entire season, but because Prime Video has over 200 million subscribers that price could decrease so that the package is purchased by more people. Which would be a win for all parties involved.
Apple – The current home of MLS and an exclusive MLB Friday doubleheaders has been linked to other major sports leagues in the past. With an estimated 25 million built-in customers, Apple already has a foundation for the NBA’s streaming service. For their MLB Broadcasts, they have used a mix of established MLB Network analysts and current MLB team play-by-play broadcasters for their East and West Coast games with an outstanding mix of current and former players surrounding Lauren Gardner for their studio show.
Apple could provide the NBA a potential of two different ways for potential packages. They could either have a MLB style package of exclusive games on a certain night of the week, that would allow Apple subscribers, AppleTV and iPhone subscribers something that is not on regular TV and bring people in that way. Or they could do what they are currently going to for MLS this season and take all of the local games from the regional sports networks and put them into an NBA League Pass style of package. Either way this would allow the NBA to be in a circle of people that they have not had in the past.
NBC Universal – The company that could send the most shockwaves in the NBA landscape would be the former league television partner. Unlike the position they were in 2002 when they lost the NBA, NBC might be in the best position to not only take on games from a streaming perspective but also on a network cable perspective as well. At the end of the 2001-2002 season, the NBA decided to leave NBC for ABC and ESPN because of the power of Disney on both network and cable television. Now over 20 years later, NBC has a deep arsenal of networks that can show NBA’s on cable as well as over-the-air as well.
NBC has a portfolio of networks that include CNBC, MSNBC, USA, Telemundo, Bravo and SyFy network to place games on cable, Peacock for streaming and of course NBC for their over-the-air broadcasts. If Warner Bros-Discovery (Turner Sports) and Disney have a major threat to their chances to keep the games on their networks, this is the one. NBA fans have been without “RoundBall Rock” for way too long.
Paramount – With a growing streaming base with sports (NFL, UFFA Champions League and the NWSL), a cable network that’s in over 80 million homes, a partnership with Showtime (Hello, All The Smoke) and most importantly CBS in their corner, Paramount could be the dark horse in potential negotiations. Their bid depends on if CBS is willing to put the NBA back on their network. It has been over 40 years since their last NBA broadcast and it could be time for a reunion.
No one knows if the NBA is willing to put all of their eggs in their current television partners or add and/or replace them with new partners.
But with the league expecting to get up to $75 Billion dollars on the next television contract, commissioner Adam Silver will not have a problem finding a potential group of suitors for the next portion of the league’s television future.