Apple TV+ is home to a growing catalog of basketball dramas and documentaries. In the future, Apple could potentially add live NBA games to the mix, according to Bloomberg.
Apple reportedly expressed interest in acquiring NBA streaming rights earlier this year, but Warner Bros. Discovery and Disney-owned ESPN hold those contracts. If some of those rights became available, however, Apple would be at the bidding table.
Bloomberg reports that while WBD and ESPN enjoy an exclusive negotiation window to renew their contracts, sources say that the NBA wants to “carve out a package of games for a third company in its next contract” that kicks in after 2025.
The publication also reports that Apple is among a handful of companies who could pick up local NBA game streaming rights as Diamond Sports goes through bankruptcy.
The latest development comes from the fallout of Bally Sports, the Diamond-owned sports streaming service that hasn’t been able to afford its existing contracts.
Digital rights to streaming games licensed to Bally must go somewhere. Companies including Apple, Amazon, Disney, and Google’s YouTube are all potential suitors for streaming rights abandoned by Bally.
The challenge for Apple, at least, is putting together a package that it can pitch to customers. While ESPN is able to stream games nationally, local game rights are tougher product to sell.
According to Bloomberg, any streaming deal for Apple would need to include enough team rights to make the effort worth it. The report also notes that the National Hockey League is monitoring Diamond’s commitments going forward.
Neither service is subject to blackout restrictions. That’s a lot different than creating a subscription sports package made up of streaming rights defined by lots of different markets.
Apple also walked away from the negotiation table with the National Football League after it almost secured the rights to NFL Sunday Ticket earlier this year due to unfavorable terms. YouTube ultimately bought those rights starting with the upcoming NFL season.
At any rate, getting local NBA streaming rights out of the hands of Bally Sports is a win for everyone. Apple, Amazon, Disney, and YouTube are all far more capable of creating a decent live video experience than what Diamond has been able to pull off through Bally.
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