Amazon eyes NBA broadcast rights as perfect match

The NBA’s broadcast rights agreement ends following the 2024-25 season and Amazon wants in.

In this photo illustration, an Amazon Prime Video logo is...
In this photo illustration, an Amazon Prime Video logo is... / SOPA Images/GettyImages

Amazon, the fifth-largest company in the world by market cap, wants to expand its library of sports rights following forays into the NFL and WNBA and is now targetting NBA broadcast rights, according to their global vice president, Jay Marine. 

Why Amazon wants the NBA

During an appearance on the Marchand & Ourand Sports Media Podcast, Marine explained why the NBA is an appealing media property for Amazon Prime. 

“First of all, the NBA is an incredible property. They’ve built a fanbase that is worldwide. It’s a very global game and a very young fanbase. And I think Adam [Silver] and team have done a great job over there at really leaning forward and into the future, and they’re very forward-thinking. So any broadcaster would be excited to be a part of the NBA.” 

The age demographic parallels between the NBA and Amazon Prime members suggest they’d be good partners. According to a report by Statista, Prime had 200 million subscribers globally as of 2020, with that figure expected to rise to 250 million by 2027, but only 53.3 million Americans have subscribed to Prime Video. On top of the global pull of Amazon’s growing umbrella of services, younger demographics were the most likely to consume Amazon’s video content, with 54 percent of Zoomers and 66 percent of millennials reporting they watch Prime Video. 

If Amazon wants content for a younger global audience, the NBA appears to be the right choice, and Marine made that abundantly clear. 

“For Amazon specifically, what fits is that it is one of the biggest leagues in the world, and people care about it. At the end of the day, do [Amazon] Prime members care about it, is it important to their life, and as a result, can it be meaningful in terms of the value that it adds to Prime members and the Prime program? 

Amazon has waded into the sports broadcasting waters with mixed results. However, their appetite to add more content and stay ahead in the hyper-competitive streaming landscape makes the NBA’s soon-to-be-available broadcasting rights appealing. 

Why the NBA may want Amazon

The NBA’s broadcasting deals with Disney (ESPN, ABC) and Warner Bros. Discovery (TNT) are set to end after the 2024-25 season. The two media giants are in an exclusive negotiation period with the NBA to retain their rights to broadcast games beyond 2025, but that doesn’t mean the NBA won’t look to allow more partners to enter the fray. 

During an appearance on the All the Smoke podcast, NBA governor Mark Cuban stated his belief that the NBA needs to increase its presence in the streaming realm. He is of the opinion that the current cable bundle model is on the way out, although not currently dead, and for the NBA to continue its upward trajectory, it needs to get on streaming services sooner rather than later. 

Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery have streaming services of their own, but getting a foothold into Amazon’s massive multi-layered web could be a partnership that benefits both sides. The next NBA television and broadcast rights deal is expected to be massive, with some suggesting the salary cap could hit $200 million ($136 million 2023-24 seasons) in the next decade. 

The NBA has seen impressive steady financial growth for the past decade, and that looks poised to continue. While the future is unknown, if Amazon throws its financial might behind the NBA, it may help the league one day challenge the NFL for the top spot in the American sports landscape.