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New NBA media rights deal finalized, boxing out both fans and TNT



New NBA media rights deal finalized, boxing out both fans and TNT

After months of speculation, the NBA finalized a new $76 billion television rights deal on Wednesday, per Andrew Marchand of The Athletic.

The 11-year agreement retains ABC/ESPN as its current partner and brings NBC and Amazon Prime aboard, too. However, this change will ultimately cost fans.

Part of the deal includes an expanded number of “nationally” televised games, moving to seven days a week once the NFL season concludes. One would need a cable package and possibly several streaming subscriptions to access all of these showcase matchups, though.

Cutting the cord was supposed to benefit consumers, but the NBA’s new rights deal significantly reduces those savings.

According to CNET, a premium cable/internet package (which usually includes sports channels) costs $217 monthly. Live TV streamers such as Sling and YouTube offer a cheaper option, but including internet, the costs average $110 and $143 monthly, respectively. NBA fans taking up one of those options will still have to add Amazon ($14.99 monthly) to their budget.

The need will only increase once the playoffs arrive. According to Marchand, Amazon will stream the In-Season Tournament while alternating conference finals with NBC. Meanwhile, ESPN will show the remaining conference championship and the NBA Finals.

The finalized deal also marks the end of TNT broadcasting NBA games. The network had partnered with the league since 1989, helping create impactful shows like “Inside the NBA,” featuring Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, who recently announced his plans to retire from broadcasting amidst the uncertainty.

As Marchand points out, TNT still has the power to match the offer, likely going after Amazon or NBC’s part. But, with both networks expected to pay a combined $4.3 billion for the rights, it’s unlikely anything changes.

The agreement with ESPN, NBC and Amazon is a major win for the NBA. But it may end up hurting fans in the long run.

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