NBA nears rights deal worth $76 billion with NBC, ESPN and Amazon, WSJ reports

(Reuters) -The National Basketball Association is closing in on media rights deals with Comcast-owned NBC, Disney’s ESPN, and that would generate about $76 billion in media revenue over 11 years, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

Rights to the widely watched professional basketball league are a prized possession for media companies. Sports content continues to attract a reliable and loyal audience at a time when traditional TV businesses are losing millions of subscribers to cord-cutting.

The WSJ report said that NBC would pay an average of $2.5 billion a year to the NBA under the arrangement and show around 100 games per season, with about half airing exclusively on Comcast’s Peacock streaming service.

Amazon’s package would amount to $1.8 billion a year and will include regular-season and playoff games and a share of the conference finals, which will be split in a rotation among the media partners, the report said.

Disney’s payments will average about $2.6 billion annually, more than the $1.5 billion it paid under the current deal, and will continue to air the NBA Finals though it will get fewer games under the new deal, the WSJ reported.

The deal, as reported by WSJ, would leave out Warner Bros Discovery, whose Turner Sports network has shown NBA games for about four decades. Analysts have said that Warner Bros Discovery’s heavy debt load could hamper its ability to compete for NBA’s rights.

The Journal report said that Warner Bros Discovery can still match a rival package, while the NBA can create a new package for the company in the final stretch, but the options for the media company are limited.

ESPN and Comcast declined to comment, while the other companies and the NBA did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.

If finalized, ESPN’s deal will enable the company to air the games on its direct-to-consumer streaming service, set to launch in 2025, WSJ said, adding that the deal will also include rights to WNBA telecasts.

(Reporting by Arsheeya Bajwa in Bengaluru; Editing by Tasim Zahid)

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