NBC Sports announce they hope to make a strong bid to bring back the NBA after more than 20 years

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NBC Universal has announced to be preparing to make a bid to win back the NBA’s broadcast rights after they lost them to Disney and Turner Sports over 20 years ago.

Just the thought of this brings back memories, as the soundtrack of “The NBA on NBC” is playing non-stop in my head as I write this article.

The channel’s executives have confirmed their potential interested and admit that they have already proceded to inform the NBA. They expressed they intend to offer a package that would include playoff games on the broadcast network and some regular season matches to be transmited exclusively on their streaming service called Peacock.

An idea was already bounced back by the NBA, considering it would be ideal to force media companies to simultcast all games to increase reach.

Already Amazon and Apple have expressed their interest in the past to buy streaming packages, as Jeff Bezos’ company has already negotiated a deal that allows to stream NBA games in Brazil. The thing is, no formal discussions can come through unless Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery (who own Turner Sports) agree to discontinue their relationship with the basketball league after their contract ends in April 2024.

Taking this into consideration, an NBA spokesman, who preffered his name wasn’t mentioned, confirmed that no negotiations have taken place with NBC Universal over national rights. The unknown figure asurred they have “a longtime relationship with Comcast/NBA as a previous NBA national TV rightsholder and through many of our teams’ partnerships with NBC Sports regional sports networks.”

As it was mentioned before, both Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery still have over a year to go as they own the NBA rights until the end of the 2024-2025 season. A big possibility could simply turn out that the NBA never opens up the negotiations to outside bidders and keep their current relationships, which is what happened in the league’s most recent renewal in 2014.

Nevertheless, the times are changing and this cannot be ignored, as the streaming world was taken over the industry as the most dominant method of distributing content. If the NBA are smart about it, they are more likely to open up to sell different packages for bidders and chose the most appealing media partners.

Latest reports suggest that Disney is expected to bid on a package of rights for ESPN, ESPN+ and ABC.

What could NBC offer the NBA that others cannot?

If customers who pay TV providers continue to drop cable networks such as TNT and TBS, then NBC Universal can offer a broadcast network to air NBA games. Also, they could give the NBA another international broadcast outlet, as Comcast owns Sky.

“What you have today is programmers selling us content at increasingly higher prices and asking us to distribute that to largely all of our customers, and at the same time, selling that exact same content either into streaming platforms or creating a direct-to-consumer product themselves at a much lower cost,” said Chris Winfrey, CEO of Charter, the second largest U.S. cable provider.

“Our willingness to continue to fund that for programmers when that content is available for free elsewhere is declining. That means within the linear video construct, you’ll see an increasing number of distributors deciding it no longer makes sense to carry certain content,” Winfrey said in interview last week.

The bidding war could prove even more complex if Warner Bros. Discovery counter offers with a larger global streaming service as they are to launch a combined project with HBO Max later this year.