TNT Reportedly Looking to Keep Some NBA Rights, Bring Local Games to National TV & Max

WarnerBros. Discovery (WBD) is reportedly making a last-minute effort to retain some NBA broadcasting rights before final decisions are made. According to Michael McCarthy from Front Office Sports, TNT, owned by WBD, is still negotiating for a smaller, less-expensive package of NBA games that may include both regular-season and playoff games. Another possibility is for the NBA to convert some locally televised games into national broadcasts on TNT.

This news precedes Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks. It follows reports that the NBA is nearing a $76 billion media-rights deal with Amazon, NBC, and ESPN.

TNT has been broadcasting NBA games for over 40 years, with the popular studio show “Inside the NBA” contributing to its success. The show, featuring Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, Kenny Smith, and Ernie Johnson, has won 19 Sports Emmys.

No agreement has been finalized yet. WBD could still match offers from NBC or Amazon to maintain NBA games on TNT. With WBD aiming for profitability amid the rise of streaming, a smaller rights package might be more advantageous financially. However, losing NBA rights entirely could be detrimental to TNT, one of TV’s most-watched networks.

Recently, WBD signed a five-year deal with ESPN to broadcast College Football Playoffs on TNT and Max, which could increase Max’s subscriber base. Since WBD invested in these rights, they might be inclined to spend less on an extensive NBA deal.

What Local Games on TNT & Max Could Mean for Fans

For NBA fans, a smaller package could mean more games on national TV. In-market NBA games usually air on regional sports networks (RSNs) and are available on live TV streaming platforms like DIRECTV STREAM, Fubo, Hulu + Live TV, and YouTube TV. However, coverage can vary depending on the RSN.

Most in-market NBA games are broadcast on Bally Sports RSNs, available on DIRECTV STREAM and Fubo. Bally Sports’ future is uncertain and could rebrand under FanDuel after the MLB season.

If WBD airs more local games nationally on TNT or truTV, fans could watch by subscribing to Max. TNT currently operates and NBA TV, which might encourage the NBA to maintain a partnership with the network.

Additionally, WBD’s collaboration with Fox and Disney to create Venu Sports, a streaming platform for major league sports, could be impacted by the NBA rights outcome. Losing NBA games to competitors like Peacock or Prime Video would mean fewer games on Venu Sports, potentially driving up costs for fans who need multiple subscriptions to follow their teams.