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6 Streaming Platforms The NBA Could Look To For New Rights Deal

The world’s number one basketball league has always been serious about streaming and the internet.

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When the NBA’s television rights expire in 2024,  a new package is expected to be carved exclusively for streaming. ESPN and Turner Sports have openly expressed their interest in keeping the NBA in their stable. But the NBA has also engaged in some strategic moves that make it clear how much they desire for streaming to be a major part of how games are distributed to the masses.

On Monday, as the NBA promotes civic engagement and encourages their fans to go out and vote the next day, the league will stream every single game being played that night for free on their app. The league has also enhanced their original programming on their app and will stream all of Victor Wembanyama’s remaining games in the French basketball league. The league will even stream select games from Scoot Henderson’s run in the G League.

Over the summer, they streamed Drew League games live from LA. All that’s left for them is to join the ranks of the PGA, F1, NASCAR and NFL and start their own behind the scenes documentary series that airs on a streaming service.

The world’s number one basketball league has always been serious about streaming and the internet. During their last rights agreement, the league agreed to start a streaming service together with ESPN that would include a set of regular season games.

The service was dead even before arrival and it is rumored that the idea came about in order to stop games from airing on Fox Sports 1, a rising upstart at the time of negotiations. The fact that the NBA even committed to such a deal, though, shows how long it has been on their vision board.

With all of that being said, here are the top contenders for a streaming package in the next rights agreement.

Amazon Prime Video

Jeff Bezos’ behemoth is entering the streaming world with lots of force. Their Thursday Night Football package has been successful. They’re front runners to acquire Pac-12 rights. They own the rights to other sports internationally. They’re launching a talk show slate that is expected to debut on Prime today. And earlier this week, they announced they’ve invested in the Overtime sports brand. Their investment includes airing 20 games from Overtime’s basketball league. Amazon already has relations with the league through a rights agreement in Brazil. They reach 45 percent of US homes. Their talk show programming will reportedly be tailored towards “uplifting sports” and “celebrating the positive” – something I’m sure every league would approve of. And they have a major upper hand in promoting NBA merchandising.

AppleTV+

The company has the ability to take NBA League Pass to the next level and has experience dealing with consumers who are subscribing to a brand digitally. They have the technology to make the games look and feel different for viewers. They’re clearly interested in sports through the investment they’ve made in the MLB and the MLS. And they reach billions of subscribers worldwide instantly. The problem a potential deal with Apple could face is that the tech brand has made it very clear that they want to sign all encompassing global deals with sports leagues. The NBA has deals with various entities worldwide that expire at different times. Does that stop Apple from moving forward? 

Peacock

NBC’s digital brand has made it clear that their bread and butter will be live sports, NBC shows, Universal movies and micro streaming services within their brand (WWE, Premier League, Hallmark) Could the NBA become another micro streamer within Peacock that moves a good amount of their content available on their own app to Peacock for the right price? Peacock has a sports talk infrastructure that can help promote the game and NBC could integrate the NBA into their highly rated NFL and college football content. Telemundo also opens the door to deepen the NBA’s relationship with the Latino community. And of course, who remembers how epic the NBA on NBC used to be.

Paramount+

Showtime has invested heavily in basketball programming that’s unfiltered and heavily subsidized by the sports betting industry. They’ve recently hired Rachel Nichols to help produce content related to the league. CBS is also a major hub for basketball programming through their coverage of regular season college basketball and the Final Four. CBS also has relationships with the WNBA, Athletes Unlimited and the Big 3. As rumors surface that Showtime and Paramount+ will eventually merge, could all of these parts get put together into a basketball destination for an app that also relies heavily on live sports for viewership? 

Microsoft

This is a major wild card but hear me out. Microsoft already pays the NBA to create the features on the league’s app. They’ve also got an ad platform that handles ads for various companies such as Netflix and they have front facing products to promote including the suite of Office tools and Activision/XBox gaming products. Could Microsoft pay the NBA more money to keep games in house, experiment with the games, promote their products and sell ads to NBA games along with Netflix programming?

Google

They’re already a major sponsor of the NBA Playoffs as well as FIBA and the WNBA. TikTok is taking some percentage share away from them as millennials find new ways to search for content. YouTube TV is a popular OTT brand that doesn’t have enough exclusive programming. Could Google use NBA games to continue their connection with basketball, promote their front facing products in new, innovative ways and give YouTube TV the boost it needs to take the lead over other OTT providers?

I didn’t include ESPN+ or HBO Max because I expect them to get games through the NBA’s linear deals with ESPN and Turner. I also wonder if the NBA’s new in season tournament, playoff games, the play in tournament and the All Star Game will be included in any digital packages. The race to win games digitally will be compelling to watch.

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BSM’s Black Friday SALE on BSM Summit Tickets is Underway!

Jason Barrett

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Each year I’m asked if there are ways to save money on tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit. I always answer yes but not everyone takes advantage of it. For those interested in doing so, here’s your shot.

For TODAY ONLY, individual tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit are reduced by $50.00. Two ticket and four ticket packages are also lowered at $50 per ticket. To secure your seat at a discounted price, just log on to BSMSummit.com. This sale ends tonight at 11:59pm ET.

If you’re flying to Los Angeles for the event, be sure to reserve your hotel room. Our hotel partner this year is the USC Hotel. It’s walking distance of our venue. Full details on hotel rooms can also be found via the conference website.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: What Does The Return of Bob Iger Mean to ESPN?

Demetri Ravanos

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Demetri Ravanos has questions about Disney going back to the future with Bob Iger. This entire episode of Media Noise is all about what the change at the top of the Walt Disney Company indicates about the future of ESPN.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: What Is Realistic For FOX at the World Cup?

Demetri Ravanos

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On this special holiday edition of Media Noise, Demetri Ravanos dives into the controversy and criticism surrounding FOX’s coverage of the World Cup in Qatar.

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