NBC reportedly nearing deal to steal NBA rights from TNT, Amazon finalizing its own package as well

NBC Sports is reportedly offering up around $2.5 billion a year to the NBA — an offer that could yank those rights from Warner Bros. Discovery, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

WBD is reportedly paying $1.2 billion a year for its rights.

NBC’s offer appears to be a significant increase, though the two agreements can’t necessarily be compared one-to-one. It would take effect in 2025.

According to the WSJ, NBC has reportedly proposed airing two primetime games a week during the NBA season. The deal would also likely include additional games on weekends as well as select streaming rights.

Meanwhile, the NBA is also reportedly readying to close a deal with Amazon’s Prime Video to carry other major games, according to The Athletic, while ESPN is also finalizing a deal to keep the NBA finals on the cable channel and ABC network. Both of these agreements are likely to run for at least a decade.

Because the number of games remains relatively the same season to season, the NBA is reportedly looking to trim games from each partner’s package so that a third rights holder can be accommodated. 

WBD is also reportedly attempting to salvage its relationship with the NBA after it was previously unable to reach a deal, but it’s not clear if it will be able to shell out what NBC and Amazon are preparing to pay.

Live sports rights have become more appealing to both broadcasters and streamers as they continue to perform well in the live ratings, even as viewers shift viewing habits for other programming. They also offer streamers “tentpole” content to lure in subscribers or viewers to their services to either become paid subscribers or more eyeballs for advertising.

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NBC was previously a major rights holder for NBA games from 1990 to 2022. When that deal ended, the network reportedly tried to renew, but the league went with ESPN and ABC. Eventually, an additional deal added TNT. Some games also aired on sister network TBS.

The NBA’s potential move back to NBC has the potential to shake up the world of sports television.

NBC’s schedule could be significant affected as it would need to make room for the games during primetime during a good chunk of the year, which would also reduce its need for new and returning series or shows. 

TNT would also need to reshape its schedule and could affect the network on a larger scale because of its strategy to market it as offering significant amounts of live sports. 

Other games likely going exclusively, at least on a national basis, to streaming, also has the potential to continue the trend of having sports fans rely more on these types of services to catch all the game action. 

During its time on NBC, NBA games were accompanied by the theme song “Roundball Rock,” composed by John Tesh.

The music reportedly ran around 12,000 times from 1990 to 2022 along with the “NBA on NBC” branding. The music became iconic in the sports and TV world, even becoming the subject of a 2013 “Saturday Night Live” parody sketch.