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Warner Bros. Discovery driving hard to keep NBA

Jun 10, 2024
Illustration of a coach holding a hand-held basketball play chalkboard with dollar signs on it

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Warner Bros. Discovery is attempting a fourth-quarter comeback in its bid to keep NBA TV rights.

Why it matters: Losing the NBA would be an existential threat for TNT and could cost the network millions in carriage fees.

State of play: The NBA is closing in on 11-year deals with Disney, Amazon and Comcast, according to two sources with knowledge of the discussions, that are reportedly worth $76 billion.

  • While those deals are close to an agreement, no contracts have been signed yet, sources say, and any announcement isn't expected until after the NBA Finals (currently headed to Game 3 in a best-of-seven series).

Zoom in: WBD continues to negotiate with the NBA, with talks centered around a smaller TV package than it's had in the past, according to the sources.

  • The WBD package could include some playoff games and take local games from regional sports networks, according to Puck.

The big picture: Many pro and collegiate leagues have expanded their media partnerships as tech giants like Amazon, YouTube and Apple descend onto the scene with huge wads of cash.

  • The NFL has added Amazon and YouTube as rights partners and will air Christmas Day games on Netflix this coming season. MLB has done deals with Apple and Roku.

Between the lines: If it can't get its own deal, WBD CEO David Zaslav has publicly touted WBD's ability to match a deal the NBA reaches with any newcomers.

  • WBD would likely try to match Amazon's deal, one source said. Amazon is paying $1.8 billion a year, while Comcast has committed $2.5 billion annually, per reports.
  • Once the NBA presents WBD with contracts from Comcast and Amazon, WBD would have five days to exercise those matching rights, one of the sources said. WBD's matching rights do not apply to Disney, an incumbent.

The NBA and WBD declined to comment for this story.

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