Apr 24, 2024 - News

What the NBA media rights negotiation could mean for the Indiana Pacers

Illustration of a basketball with the seam shaped like a dollar symbol

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The NBA's media rights hit the market yesterday. Let the bidding begin.

Why it matters: The move marks the first significant change in TV partners for the $10 billion league in more than two decades.

State of play: The NBA's exclusive negotiating window with Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery expired without a new deal.

  • The talks with Disney and WBD were complicated by the NBA's desire to add additional media partners, a source with knowledge of the talks told Axios.

The big picture: Sports leagues are adding more media partners to get the overall price increases they're seeking.

Reality check: The national TV deal may, or may not, make much of a difference for our ability to watch the Pacers.

  • The team had just one scheduled national TV game at the start of this season and ended up appearing in five, including its run to the In-Season Tournament Final.

Zoom in: Games were broadcast locally on Bally Sports, whose parent company Diamond Sports Group entered bankruptcy last year.

  • Diamond needs to cut new long-term deals with all its NBA teams as part of its plan to get out of bankruptcy, but that likely won't happen until after the national deals are set.

What we're watching: The playoffs, which the Pacers are in for the first time since 2020.

  • They won Game 2 over the Bucks Tuesday night.
  • Games 3 (Friday) and 4 (Sunday) will be at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
  • If they win the series, it'll be the first time the team advances beyond the first round of the playoffs in a decade.

The bottom line: Between Tyrese Haliburton's breakout season, the In-Season Tournament run and a playoff berth, this season has given fans more reasons to want to watch, and that gives national networks more reasons to pick up Pacers games next year.

Editor's note: This story was updated to add that the Pacers ended up appearing in five nationally televised games this season.

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