Monday, June 17, 2024

NBA’s Silver said to be “annoyed” with WBD, Zaslav

Must read

NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s patience is said to be running thin with Warner Bros. Discovery.

Silver is said to be “annoyed” with Warner Bros. Discovery and its president and CEO David Zaslav, according to Matthew Belloni of Puck. The current source of his irritation is WBD’s persistence in a media rights negotiation that the league regards as functionally over, but it more broadly dates back to Zaslav’s comment nearly two years ago that his company did not “have to have” the NBA.

Silver is not alone in his displeasure with WBD and Zaslav, as TNT’s Charles Barkley expressed frustration with company leadership — including suggesting that Silver was irritated by Zaslav’s 2022 comment — in an interview with Dan Patrick this week.

The league’s thinking, per Belloni, is that WBD had its chance to retain the rights during its exclusive negotiating window and blew the opportunity. Per Lucas Shaw of Bloomberg, the NBA sought $2.3 billion per year from WBD to retain its “B” package and Zaslav was unwilling to offer anything beyond $2.1 billion. Comcast has since bid $2.5 billion for the rights.

Over the life of an 11-year deal, WBD would end up paying $4.4 billion more for the package than it initially desired in the event it was able to match — and that assuming it is able to match on price alone, which the NBA is said to dispute. Alternatively, WBD is said to be exploring the possibility of matching Amazon’s $1.8 billion/year bid for a new “C” package of games, carving out a fourth package, or seeking a settlement from the NBA.

Per multiple reports, WBD will have five days to match once Comcast and Amazon make their formal offers, which is expected at some point in the near future.

The NBA has had a 40-year relationship with the networks under the TNT Sports banner, but its relationship with Warner Bros. Discovery dates back less than three years — since the Turner networks were spun off from AT&T and merged into a new venture with Zaslav-led Discovery. The NBA last renewed with TNT a decade ago in 2014, when the network’s parent company Time Warner had yet to be acquired by AT&T.

WBD has relatively few domestic deals under its belt in its short existence, most recently acquiring College Football Playoff games in a sublicensing agreement with ESPN. It also acquired rights to NASCAR and MotoGP racing. (It should be noted that Zaslav-led Discovery has long been an aggressive bidder for sports rights internationally.)

Notably in the latest reporting, it is unclear how NBA All-Star Weekend will factor into negotiations. Previous reporting indicated that the All-Star festivities will be part of the “B” package — as WBD currently owns rights to the event — but CNBC reported that it will shift to Amazon’s “C” package. Belloni of Puck is reporting that the NBA “still needs clarity” on that aspect of the deal, as well as some international and local issues.

Latest article