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#pounditSunday, May 26, 2024

Could NBA Finals end up on streaming service?

Adam Silver speaking

Jun 2, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA; NBA commissioner Adam Silver talks to media before game one of the 2022 NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Boston Celtics at Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA is in the process of securing new media rights packages, and there is a chance some big games could move to streaming services in the coming years.

ESPN/ABC and TNT Sports are looking to retain their NBA media rights, but both juggernauts have an exclusive negotiating window with the league that ends on Monday evening at 11:59 p.m. ET. After that, other networks like NBC, which wants to get back in on the NBA action, and streaming services like Amazon, YouTube, Netflix and Apple will formally enter the mix.

According to Andrew Marchand of The Athletic, the NBA wants to have at least three new media rights agreements. The idea of a streaming giant like Amazon carrying significant games has not been ruled out, either. Marchand said there is a possibility Amazon or another streaming service could carry conference finals or even NBA Finals games down the road as part of a long-term deal.

The NBA Finals currently air on ABC, while ESPN and TNT carry the conference finals. ABC/ESPN parent company Disney and TNT parent company Warner Bros. Discovery want to retain those rights after paying and average of $2.6 billion combined per year for their overall NBA packages over the past nine years.

NBA executives are seeking deals of 10 years or longer for their next rights agreements, Marchand reports. The league wants to position itself to allow fans to have access to as many games as possible through multiple platforms as cable television decreases in popularity.

The NFL has enjoyed great success with its Amazon “Thursday Night Football” package, which is likely the main reason the NBA wants to explore similar agreements. There was also an NFL playoff game this past season that was exclusively carried on a streaming platform, though that was extremely unpopular among fans.

NBC, which most recently carried NBA games from 1990-2002, also might explore a new NBA package that is similar to what it has with the NFL.

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