Possible New NBA Programing Deal Could Foul Out Atlanta

Atlanta could be one of the biggest losers if the NBA chooses a new programming partner.

According to Sports Business Journal, the NBA is close to formalizing written contracts with ESPN/ABC parent company Walt Disney, NBC Universal, and Amazon later this week. Atlanta-based TNT Sports, a division of Warner Brothers Discovery, currently holds the package of NBA games that NBC is on the verge of purchasing. This deal reportedly includes Sunday and prime-time games and is worth $2.5 to $2.6 billion annually. WBD currently pays $1.2 billion annually for those games.

If NBC officially signs with the NBA, as many observers now say is likely, TNT will lose a reliable source for high-rated live sports programming.

For Atlanta, the professional basketball focus will likely move from Techwood Drive where TNT is headquartered, to either New York City or Los Angeles if NBC is the confirmed new home of the NBA next season. This would be a huge loss for the city in terms of the dollars and prestige that having a national live sports content source brings.

Nothing is confirmed yet. SBJ quotes its sources saying that WBD CEO David Zaslav will be shown the NBC contract by the NBA to see if the incumbent network can match what NBC is offering. SBJ notes that WBD is $40 billion in debt and doesn’t have the distribution network that NBC has. WBD could take the NBA to court over the matter, try to outbid NBC for the package, or do without NBA basketball.

If WBD chooses to let NBC have rights to NBA basketball, the 2024-25 season would be the last season of games on TNT. TNT has been airing NBA games for more than 40 years.