Monday, June 17, 2024

WBD’s Zaslav “content” to lose NBA if price too high, per CNBC

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Warner Bros. Discovery president and CEO David Zaslav may not be as desperate to keep the NBA as one might assume, at least according to CNBC.

Zaslav is “content to lose the NBA” if the price of keeping the rights is too high, Alex Sherman of CNBC reported Thursday. WBD’s recent agreements to acquire College Football Playoff games and NASCAR races are a factor in Zaslav’s thinking, per Sherman, as is the possibility of gaining a competitive advantage over Comcast if that company overpays for the NBA.

The CNBC report is in line with Zaslav’s statement more than two years ago that WBD does not “have to have the NBA.”

WBD is still exploring its options for retaining the NBA, which per Sherman may include either trying to match Amazon’s $1.8 billion/year bid for a new, tertiary package of games. Previous reporting by John Ourand of Puck has indicated that the WBD matching rights do not extend to the Amazon package. The extent of WBD’s matching rights has emerged as the most significant factor in negotiations.

Per Sherman, WBD could seek either a settlement from the NBA or to carve out a fourth package of games. The possibility of a fourth package has been disputed in previous reporting.

If Zaslav is reassured by the CFP and NASCAR deals, it should be noted that those two properties will account for a mere 7-9 telecasts per year on TNT (truTV and Max will air a more extensive schedule of ancillary NASCAR programming). The CFP deal includes two first round games per year the next two seasons, plus an additional two quarterfinal games starting in 2026. The NASCAR deal is for five Cup Series races per season on TNT, plus a half-season of practice and qualifying sessions on truTV.

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