Iger’s Return To Disney Will Impact NBA National TV Talks

The league’s American national TV deals with Disney and Warner Bros. ends in 2025.

The Walt Disney Company has a new CEO Robert Iger. Actually, Iger isn’t a new face, he is the old boss who left and is making a comeback to see if he can rework the company to become profitable. The National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver is keenly interested in what Iger’s plans are for Disney’s future. Silver represents the NBA at the negotiating table when it comes to cable TV and streaming video deals and Disney’s ESPN is an NBA partner. Silver’s product is worth a lot of money and a new American national TV-video contract needs to be worked out with some group of partners. Silver knows that Warner Bros. head David Zaslav has publicly said, “we don’t have to have the NBA.” Warner Bros.’ TNT has the rights to NBA games through 2025. Disney’s ESPN deal with the NBA also ends in 2025. Presently the NBA gets around $8 billion annually from its American national TV deals. There have been reports that the NBA is seeking an American national TV deal that is worth three times more than the present agreements with Warner Bros. and Disney.

There is a question of whether Silver will actually sit down with Iger or his representatives at the bargaining table to discuss extending ESPN’s deal as there is the possibility that Disney could sell off the cable TV network. ESPN has been cutting costs because there is the massive problem of cord cutting, named for people who decided to end their cable TV service. Iger will be at Disney until 2024 and one of his jobs is to find a CEO to take his place. But that is not a real concern for the NBA and Adam Silver. The league will be at the negotiating table looking for a new TV deal in 2023.

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Nearly 2,000 cast members practice sunrise yoga celebrating International Yoga Day in front of Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Tuesday, June 21, 2022, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)