As the NBA regular season approaches, the league’s 28 markets are still in the process of determining how games will be broadcast locally. The bankruptcy and legal battles involving Diamond Sports Group, which operates the Bally regional sports networks (RSNs) for 15 NBA teams, have created uncertainty for the upcoming season. Additionally, Warner Bros. Discovery’s departure from the RSN business has added further upheaval for some teams.
While most teams’ local broadcasting arrangements remain unchanged for now, there are still unresolved issues as the NBA season gets underway. Here is an overview of the league’s television situation at this moment.
Status of Negotiations between Diamond and the NBA
Diamond has requested an extension for its Chapter 11 bankruptcy deadline to present a plan for reorganizing its business. The NBA and NHL were hoping for clarity before the start of their seasons, but no word has been given on the extension request or its potential duration. Until the NBA has this information, it cannot adequately prepare for what comes next. There is also a similar legal battle between Diamond and several MLB teams.
Expected Outcome of Diamond’s Plan
The likely outcome is similar to what happened in Major League Baseball, where Diamond continued to work with profitable teams and disassociated from unprofitable ones, such as the San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks. The impact on NBA teams remains unclear, as it depends on the lawsuit’s outcome. In the meantime, teams are preparing for possible reductions in fees and exploring alternative broadcasting options in case their RSN deals fall through.
Availability of Games for Fans
The NBA assures fans that, like Major League Baseball, it will ensure games remain on the air for viewers. Teams are already planning for alternative options in case their RSN deals are affected. Scripps Sports, for example, has signed deals with several teams and could offer an alternative broadcasting solution.
Long-Term RSN Plan for the NBA
While the NBA is currently dealing with various RSN-related challenges, its goal is to get through the next two seasons and then reset the landscape with a new national television deal starting in the 2025-26 season. Unlike baseball, which recently signed a new national contract, basketball has an opportunity to take a comprehensive approach to address the situation.
Teams Still Affiliated with Diamond/Bally
Diamond currently has deals with 15 out of the NBA’s 30 teams, including the Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks, Miami Heat, and more.
Teams with RSN Deals outside Diamond/Bally
The remaining 15 teams have broadcast deals with local NBC Sports affiliates or other networks. For example, the Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, and Philadelphia 76ers have deals with NBC Sports affiliates, while the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings also have separate agreements.
Unique Situations for Other Teams
Teams like the Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz are transitioning from RSN models to free, over-the-air local broadcasts that provide wider access to viewers. These teams are also offering subscription-based streaming services for mobile viewing. However, not all teams can pursue this model due to contractual agreements and the profitability of RSNs.
In conclusion, while the NBA’s television situation remains uncertain due to ongoing legal battles and bankruptcy proceedings, the league is committed to ensuring games are still accessible to fans. The long-term plan involves a reset of the landscape through a new national television deal in 2025-26. Some teams have already secured alternative broadcasting options, but others are tied to existing contracts and the profitability of RSNs.
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