NBCU, Apple, Amazon vying for NBA streaming rights – report

NBA basketball could be another sports package that moves to a streaming service, as NBCUniversal, Apple and Amazon have all reportedly expressed interest in buying the rights, according to CNBC.

The NBA has already been made aware of NBCU’s potential interest, sources told CNBC’s Alex Sherman. NBCU wants a package that would air playoff games on NBC’s broadcast network, while some regular season games could be exclusive to Peacock.

NBCU previously held NBA broadcast rights until 2002, when Disney and Turner Sports (now part of Warner Bros. Discovery) – the incumbent rights holders – purchased the package. Disney and Turner Sports renewed their deal with the league back in 2014, an agreement that runs through the 2024-25 season. Sports Media Watch at the time said the deal is reportedly worth up to $2.7 billion annually.

As for Apple and Amazon, CNBC didn’t elaborate on what sort of NBA rights they were seeking but noted the tech giants could buy “carved-out streaming packages.”

Both Apple and Amazon have recently entrenched themselves in live sports streaming. Amazon, in addition to its 11-year Thursday Night Football deal, holds rights to stream NBA games in Brazil.

Whereas Apple in the past year inked agreements with MLB and Major League Soccer, and this month launched a dedicated streaming service for the MLS regular season.

Streaming seems to be a top priority for the NBA, as sources told CNBC the league could choose to have media companies simulcast all games on streaming to increase reach or perhaps create multiple new packages for bidders. It’s unclear how much an NBA national package would go for, but Front Office Sports has suggested it could be worth between $50-$75 billion for a multi-year deal.

Comparably, Amazon is paying the NFL around $1 billion a year to stream TNF, and Apple will reportedly pay MLS $250 million over a 10-year period.

In any case, CNBC said no formal negotiations can take place unless Disney and WBD waive their exclusive negotiation windows, which expire in April 2024. Sources added Disney is expected to bid on NBA rights for ESPN, ESPN+ and ABC.

WBD’s interest in NBA is less clear. But the company this week unveiled a comprehensive programming lineup for the upcoming NBA All-Star game. WBD told AdWeek it sold out its advertising inventory for the event.

The NBA has recently enhanced some of its streaming options, partnering with Microsoft to release a redesigned mobile app in September. Not long after, the league announced a new regional direct-to-consumer streaming service for the Los Angeles Clippers.

The NBA has a premium DTC service, NBA League Pass, which showcases live, out-of-market regular season games. NBA League Pass is also among the streaming services that joined Verizon’s +play subscription aggregation platform.