The NBA has its pick of partners for the 2025-2026 season with ESPN, Warner Bros. Discovery, Amazon, and NBCUniversal all wanting rights to the league’s next broadcast package.
With sports increasingly dominating TV, and streaming services taking a keen interest in the area, the NBA wants to grow its broadcast rights revenue. While the league may not be able to triple its revenue, it’s possible to still double its money, sports media insider Andrew Marchand said on The Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast.
To achieve this growth, Marchand said the NBA will need more than three partners. In addition, it bodes well for the league that the interested streaming companies might all want rights to something different.
Amazon, for example, is interested in rights to the NBA Playoffs, but its less clear what other potential bidders like want. According to Marchand, Apple is a “wild card” and NBCUniversal could still make a bid. Rumors are likely untrue that Netflix might make a bid, especially with its in-house live sports programming. In addition, YouTube TV said it hasn’t ruled out an NBA bid, but its priority is polishing its NFL Sunday Ticket offerings.
The NBA must also negotiate exclusivity and streaming options, according to Awful Announcing. If the league secures a partnership with a service like ESPN+, Max, Peacock, Hulu, or even the new Hulu-Disney app, the games have a chance of airing on cable as well.
For example, combination of streaming and cable resulted in the NFL’s viewership jumping 6% this season. The league got an audience boost from games airing on Amazon Prime Video’s Thursday Night Football as well as ABC and ESPN networks.
Sports leagues, TV providers, and streaming services have found themselves in a potential symbiotic relationship. Leagues want to get their games in front of a large audience, and many media providers are struggling with profitability. With a plethora of services available, leagues like the NBA and NFL can shop for the highest bidder.
It’s unclear how partnerships will play out, but we’ll likely learn more in the first quarter of 2024. Until deals are reached, basketball fans remain uncertain about where, when, and how much they’ll have to pay to watch games during the 2025-2026 season.