May 19, 2024

Brighton Journal

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Can TNT and NBA really be done? What to do with Amazon's new TV deal?

Can TNT and NBA really be done?  What to do with Amazon's new TV deal?

like The athlete The NBA and Amazon Prime Video have the framework for an agreement that would make the streamer a major player in how the league's games are watched in the future, it was reported on Friday.

At the same time, ABC/ESPN and the NBA are also moving toward a new deal that would keep the NBA Finals on that network.

This leaves a battle royale for the final package between incumbent TNT Sports and NBC. The NBA prefers to have just three partners, but there is an outside chance it could have four.

The athleteAndrew Marchand and Richard Deitch give their first impressions of the news.

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Marchand: My first takeaway is that Prime Video has emerged as the biggest tech company in the sports rights space. When this deal is completed, Prime Video will broadcast NFL, NBA and MLB games (locally in New York with the Yankees) and own the prime rights worldwide. If it wasn't the case before, it should now undoubtedly be talked about with ESPN, Fox, NBC, CBS and TNT Sports being the major players in the live streaming rights space.

Richard, what was your initial idea?

Ditch: What really caught my attention from your report was the “Great Playoff Stock.” This has the potential to be a huge consumer change for NBA fans. How will NBA fans react? I'm also thinking about what this might mean for the WNBA; I think that might be too big for this package in the next couple of years. What could a virtual NBA look like on Amazon in terms of production, inventory and talent?

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Marchand: Amazon has demonstrated its strategy with the NFL. It added credibility to his play-by-play with the legendary Al Michaels. I think she'll try that approach again, so I can see Ian Eagle at the top of her list. He and Mike Breen are two of the best basketball broadcasters, and Breen was tied up with ESPN for another five years after this one. Eagle is already the voice of the Final Four and does TNT, so he seems to have the same status as Michaels.

As far as analysts go, Eagle and Grant Hill have been good together, but I could also see them being interested in someone like JJ Redick, another Duke grad. Richard Jefferson is also there. One name, if you want to think really big — and collectors, save your rewrites for now — is LeBron James, if he were to retire by 2025-2026. Amazon, in particular, has already established a relationship with James by occasionally airing his show “The Shop” as an alternative broadcast on “Thursday Night Football.” Amazon also got Fred Gaudelli to start on Thursday nights, so I think they'll add a big producer and then maybe look to work with one of the other networks to produce, similar to football again.

Let's move on to the final battle: TNT Sports vs. NBC. How do you see that vibration? How much of a factor would you put on “Inside the NBA” if you were in the league?

NBA on NBC


NBC has been out of the NBA since 2002, when Chris Webber and Doug Christie's Sacramento Kings lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. (Jed Jacobson/Getty Images)

Ditch: I've written a lot about “Inside the NBA” over the years, including an article discussing why he should be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in the Contributors category. It seems incomprehensible that the NBA wouldn't want this offer somewhere. TNT Sports also has standout play-by-play callers like Eagle, Kevin Harlan and Brian Anderson. But I don't think the presence of “Inside the NBA” is a major factor here. Maybe Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD), TNT's parent company, to the NBA for its streaming business between Max and a proposed Disney-Fox-Warner venture to aggregate live sports content. NBC will be a great partner, and I love the company's history with the league. But if the NBA is serious about three partners versus four, TNT Sports is keeping a smaller package.

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By the way, I love your LeBron suggestion. Given his IQ and basketball reputation, he would be a great analyst.

Marchand: NBC enters the equation with a top-tier playing group with Mike Tirico and Noah Eagle. This is an addition to the production value. However, this will come down to No. 1, the almighty dollar. Money wins. But if it comes down to relationships, TNT Sports has a choice. In November 2022, WBD CEO David Zaslav said: “We don't have to have the NBA.” Maybe so, but the NBA didn't like to hear that, and TNT Sports' affiliate fees on cable, satellite, and even in the tight package with Disney and Fox depended largely on getting the NBA. So he may have to pay a large sum if he wants to keep the league on its network and streaming services. Meanwhile, Mark Lazarus, president of NBC Universal, goes back in time with top NBA executives. If the NBA stays in a three-pack, it will be fascinating to see how this latest package plays out.

Ditch: The important point here, even in a difficult economic environment for media giants, is that top-tier sports remain vital when it comes to how these companies approach the consumption of sports content. The bubble hasn't burst yet. It's also a major statement from Amazon. In sports survival.

(Photo of “Inside the NBA” crew and San Antonio Spurs star Victor Wembanyama during the NBA All-Star Game in February: Brandon Todd/NBAE via Getty Images)