Money talks and one TV executive is questioning the need to have the NBA.
National Basketball Association owners and the National Basketball Players Association now have until February 8th to decide to end the parties’ Collective Bargaining Agreement. If either party pulls out, the present deal ends on June 30th, 2023. The two sides are, as always, talking about how to split money. But there may be a significant factor hovering over the talks. Since a great deal of the NBA is funded by television money, there is a concern that some of that money will evaporate if Turner Sports decides not to renew its deal with the NBA. That agreement ends in 2025. The NBA’s last TV rights contract was signed with Time Warner’s Turner Sports, not the present Warner Bros owner, and Walt Disney’s ESPN. It was a nine-year contract worth about $2 billion. Turner Sports was sold as part of a deal in which Discovery landed all of Time Warner’s properties and the new company has been lopping off divisions and cutting expenses in its CNN division, in its movie division and across the board. Disney has a new CEO, former boss Bob Iger, because the company was not doing well financially.
In 2021, there was a report that the NBA was looking for an eight-billion-dollar deal from its potential TV-video streaming partners. One company that is not going to get involved with any sports league is Netflix. “We’ve not seen a profit path to renting big sports,” said Ted Sarandos, Netflix co-CEO and chief content officer. The present NBA partners have made it clear, at least in the present time, that cost containment might be a prudent way to go. David Zaslav, the CEO of Warner Bros, said the company doesn’t “have to have the NBA.” Television rights fees loom large in the talks.
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