June 9, 2023

Rivalry Between CEOs Of Disney, NBC Could Elevate Stakes Of NBA Media Deal

Comcast’s NBCUniversal wants an NBA package including playoff games for its broadcast network and regular-season games for its Peacock streaming platform, according to CNBC. The interest is likely mutual between the NBA and NBC.

Under their current rights deals, incumbents ESPN and TNT pay a combined $24 billion, or $2.6 billion annually. ESPN and TNT have an exclusive negotiating window with the NBA.

Comcast chairman/CEO Brian Roberts has a rivalry with Disney’s Bob Iger.

“Brian Roberts and Bob Iger are personal rivals – as well as business rivals,” noted Matthew Belloni, former editor of The Hollywood Reporter turned co-founder of Puck News.

“If they can make a smart choice for their own company – and screw over the other guy – they are going to do it.”

There have been reports that Disney could spin off ESPN, but Iger has resisted that notion. The rising costs of live rights could make it difficult for Disney to continue to keep ESPN.

“There may come a time when [Iger] is essentially forced to sell [ESPN] by the economics of that business,” warned Belloni. “If the rights fees keep going up, the cable fees keep going down, and the streaming business does not mature in the way they hope it does, then it just doesn’t make sense for them to stay in that business.

“But I think Iger wants to stay in that business.”

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