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NBA tips off 2022-23 season amid intrigue over next media rights deal

Tim Baysinger
Oct 18, 2022
Illustration of a basketball with the seam shaped like a dollar symbol

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As the NBA gets ready to tip off its 76th season Tuesday night, current and prospective media rights bidders are already lining up, despite three years left on the league's current deal.

Why it matters: The lack of other big-ticket sports rights still available coupled with the NBA's younger and more digitally savvy audience means one thing: bidding war.

  • The NBA's current deals with Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery are worth $24 billion collectively through the 2024-25 season. The league wants to triple that in its next deal.

The latest: A few rumblings on Monday give an idea of where the competition stands.

  • TNT announced contract extensions for its "Inside the NBA" team that take them well past the expiration of the current rights deals.
  • Amazon, which has not been shy about its desire to grab a piece of NBA rights, also announced it would stream up to 87 NBA games in Brazil, including four exclusively.
  • "There's no secret. ... We're really interested in the NBA," Marie Donoghue, Amazon's vice president of global sports video, told "The Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast" last week.
  • Meanwhile, Disney CEO Bob Chapek previously said that while he is "interested in a renewal" with the NBA, he added they'll "only do it if it is accretive to shareholder value."

💭 Tim's thought bubble: Even with that caveat, it would be a shock if Disney lost the NBA.

The big picture: Live sports have never been more important to the linear TV ecosystem. They've also never been costlier.

  • Networks and digital platforms will pay a collective $15 billion next year to air the five biggest U.S. professional leagues. That's in addition to hefty rights deals for major collegiate conferences like the SEC and Big Ten.
  • The influx of deep-pocketed tech giants like Amazon and Apple is only further driving the price up and making it more difficult for the established sports players to keep their market share, especially as their money-making businesses decline.

What's next: NBA fans will be watching to see if the Golden State Warriors repeat as champions or if someone else knocks them out. The same could be said for the league's media partners.

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