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Report: Amazon showing interest in acquiring NBA’s media rights

Amazon
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

A new report indicates that when the bidding for the NBA’s media right starts up again, online giant Amazon could be a serious contender.

Michael McCarthy of MarketWatch noted that any proposed bid will be steep and come in the wake of Amazon’s 11-year media deal with the NFL that began this season.

“The league will likely seek $50 billion to $75 billion for its next multi-year package, said sources,” McCarthy wrote. “Amazon is paying the NFL around $1 billion a year to exclusively stream TNF through 2033.”

Positive Early Returns With NFL

One of the reasons why Amazon is likely going to be part of the bidding process is because of the early success of that NFL deal to show Thursday night contests.

Amazon Prime Video’s ratings indicate that Thursday Night Football is averaging 13.3 million viewers through four games. The broadcasts are also reaching a younger audience.

A key factor for Amazon in bidding for the NBA is the league’s strong connection in China, where it has a deal that pays it $1.5 billion per year.

A Brewing Battle

Any new media deal wouldn’t begin until the 2025-26 season, with ESPN and TNT holding the American rights through 2024-25 campaign.

Despite the steep investment that will be required to re-sign with the league, both ESPN and TNT will likely seek to continue their relationships with the NBA. Right now, the two networks are in the midst of nine-year deals that began with the 2016-17 season and will pay the NBA $24 billion over the course of the deals.

Such numbers are a far cry from the early decades of the league, with the first network television deal coming during the 1953-54 season. The long departed DuMont Television Network broadcasted 13 games for $39,000, an average of $3,000 per game.

Even in the early 1980s, the league’s ratings were bad enough that select Finals games were broadcasted on tape delay.

It will be interesting to see if any other streaming services join the bidding process for the NBA’s media rights. Apple, which has its own streaming service, recently negotiated a 10-year deal with Major League Soccer worth $2.5 billion.

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