The following is a general overview of the National Basketball Association (NBA) on television in the 2020s. There have been no new national media contracts during this period. Locally three NBA teams, the Los Angeles Clippers, Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns, moved all or some of their games from regional sports networks to over-the-air television networks.

2019–2020

National

This was the fourth year of the current nine-year contracts with ABC, ESPN, TNT and NBA TV.[1]

Local

Under an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice regarding Disney's acquisition of 21st Century Fox, the Fox Sports Regional Networks were required to be sold off to third parties by June 18, 2019.[2] Fox also invoked a clause to give Yankee Global Enterprises the rights to buy their stake back in the YES Network, which aired the local broadcasts to the NBA's Brooklyn Nets.[3] Including YES, the Fox Sports Regional Networks held the local TV rights to a combined total of 44 NHL, NBA, and MLB teams.[4] On March 8, YES was sold to a consortium including Yankee Global Enterprises, Amazon, and Sinclair Broadcast Group for $3.5 billion.[5] Then on May 3, Sinclair and Entertainment Studios agreed to purchase the rest of the Fox Sports Regional Networks.[6] The networks continued to temporarily use the Fox Sports name under a transitional license agreement while Sinclair explored re-branding options.[7]

2020–2021

National

This is the fifth year of the current nine-year contracts with ABC, ESPN, TNT, and NBA TV.[8]

To reduce on-site staff, ESPN and TNT will leverage the home team's rightsholder as a host broadcaster for some of their games. They will send a neutral "world feed" and other camera feeds to the network, which will then add commentary and surrounding coverage. ESPN and TNT are also deploying additional cameras specific to their broadcasts, and ESPN may provide a supplemental on-site presence if the local broadcaster does not have enough capacity to support the host model. ESPN stated that some (roughly half) of their games, particularly marquee games exclusive to ESPN and ABC, would be produced on-site with an existing hybrid model (where some producers and graphics operators work from ESPN's studios in Bristol, Connecticut). TNT also planned to begin doing some games on-site beginning with Martin Luther King Jr. Day.[9][10]

Local

On December 26, 2020, it was announced that Fox Sports Networks had acquired rights to simulcast 36 Toronto Raptors games locally in the Tampa Bay area through at least the first half of the season. All of the games will be carried via the Fox Sports Go app, with selected games to also air on television via Fox Sports Sun (15) and Fox Sports Florida (2).[11]

On March 31, 2021, the Fox Sports Networks rebranded as Bally Sports, as part of an agreement between majority-owner Sinclair Broadcast Group and casino operator Bally's Corporation.[12][13][14]

2021–2022

National

This is the sixth year of a nine-year deal with ABC, ESPN, TNT, and NBA TV.[15] Beginning with this season, TNT moved its marquee Thursday doubleheaders to Tuesday nights starting with the season opener. The network will continue to air Thursday night doubleheaders, but only during opening week and beginning in January to avoid competing with Thursday Night Football. TNT aired a doubleheader on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (January 17) and the final day of the regular season (April 10).[16]

ABC began its NBA Saturday Primetime early with a special game airing on December 11.

On February 9, 2022, the Warriors–Jazz matchup televised on ESPN was the first in the network's history to have an all women production team. Beth Mowins was the play-by-play commentator, with Doris Burke as analyst and Lisa Salters on the sideline; in addition, 33 other women handled production roles in Salt Lake City and in the ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut.[17]

In Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, ESPN's lead play-by-play Mike Breen was out due to COVID-19 protocols, which resulted to Mark Jones replacing Breen on play-by-play. In Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Finals, analyst Jeff Van Gundy was also out for the same reason, leaving Jones, Mark Jackson, and sideline reporter Lisa Salters; they were together the first all-African-American broadcast team for an NBA Finals game.[18] Van Gundy returned in Game 2, while Breen followed suit in Game 3.[19]

Local

The Portland Trail Blazers signed a broadcasting deal with Root Sports Northwest, replacing NBC Sports Northwest as the team's game broadcasters.[20]

2022–2023

National

This is the seventh year of a nine-year deal with ABC, ESPN, TNT, and NBA TV.[21] ESPN broadcasts Wednesday and Friday night games for most of the season, and games during selected Sunday nights from February to April. ABC airs NBA Saturday Primetime during eight games selected Saturday nights between December and March, with a tripleheader on January 28, the first tripleheader on the network outside of Christmas Day along with a Saturday afternoon game on January 14. The network also broadcasts NBA Sunday Showcase on three selected Sunday afternoons in February and early March.[22] TNT airs Tuesday games all season, and Thursday games from January to April.[23] NBA TV televises games primarily on Mondays all season, Saturday and Sunday nights for most of the season, Thursdays during the first half of the season, Fridays during the second half of the season, and any other time when neither ESPN/ABC nor TNT are airing games nationally.[24]

Five Christmas Day games were scheduled for this season. ABC was originally scheduled to air just a tripleheader, but it was later decided that all five Christmas games would be simulcast across both ABC and ESPN for the first time, likely in an attempt to counterprogram the NFL's scheduling of a Christmas Day tripleheader for the first time.[25][26] Previously, the most Christmas games that either network had ever aired in any given season was three.

Four games were held on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, with TNT and NBA TV each airing two of them.[27]

The NBA designed January 24–28 as "NBA Rivals Week", with every nationally televised game featuring "classic and budding rivalries between teams and players".[27]

On March 8, ESPN had another all-female crew for an NBA game for the second straight year. The 7:30pm (ET) telecast between the Dallas Mavericks and the New Orleans Pelicans had Beth Mowins and Doris Burke as commentators, with Cassidy Hubbarth on the sideline, while the 10:00pm (ET) telecast between the Toronto Raptors and the Los Angeles Clippers had Mike Breen and Mark Jackson as commentators, with reporter Ros Gold-Onwude joining the broadcast team as an analyst/color commentator.[28][29]

On the final day of the regular season, April 9, two games with playoff implications were flexed into ESPN's afternoon doubleheader.[27][22]

Local

In September 2022, Monumental Sports & Entertainment bought out NBCUniversal's ownership stake in NBC Sports Washington, which carries broadcasts of the Washington Wizards and the NHL's Washington Capitals, both Monumental-owned teams. Monumental initially took minority ownership of the network in 2016. NBC will provide transitional corporate, technical, and distribution support up to 18 months after the sale, and Monumental plans to rebrand the network after the 2022–23 season.[30][31]

In October 2022, the Clippers announced an agreement with KTLA to air 15 games. The remaining games will continue to air on Bally Sports West. The Clippers also launched a direct-to-consumer streaming service called ClipperVision. The service includes all non-national games.[32]

On February 24, 2023, the AT&T SportsNet regional sports networks sent letters to the Houston Rockets and the Utah Jazz saying they had until March 31, 2023, to reach an agreement to take their local television rights back. Warner Bros. Discovery, the owners of the networks, intends to leave the regional sports networks business. If a deal is not reached the networks would file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The Portland Trail Blazers's deal with Root Sports Northwest is not affected because Warner Bros. Discovery only has minority control of that network.[33][34]

On March 14, Diamond Sports Group, the operator of the Bally Sports regional sports networks, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Diamond plans to continue to broadcast games for the 16 NBA teams it has regional rights to while it plans to separate from majority parent Sinclair Broadcast Group as part of the reorganization.[35]

2023–2024

National

This will be the eighth year of a nine-year deal with ABC, ESPN, TNT, and NBA TV,[36] ESPN broadcasts Wednesday and Friday night games for most of the season, and games during selected Sunday nights from February to April. ABC is scheduled to air nine NBA Saturday Primetime games, including a tripleheader on January 27, over seven selected Saturdays between that January date and March. ABC will also have NBA Sunday Showcase on four selected Sunday afternoons in February and March, with three of them as doubleheaders.[37] TNT airs Tuesday games all season, and Thursday games from January to April.[38] NBA TV televises games primarily on Mondays all season, Saturday and Sunday nights for most of the season, Thursdays during the first half of the season, Fridays during the second half of the season, and any other time when neither ESPN/ABC nor TNT are airing games nationally.[39]

Five Christmas Day games are scheduled for this season. With Christmas Day falling on a Monday in 2023, the NFL also scheduled a Monday Night Football on that day. Because ABC/ESPN holds the broadcast rights to both NBA Christmas games and Monday Night Football, it was decided that ESPN will again air all five NBA games, but ABC will only simulcast two of them in favor of exclusively airing the Monday Night Football game. This would mark the first time since 2016 that ABC will televise fewer than three NBA Christmas games.[37]

Four Martin Luther King Jr. Day games will be televised nationally, with TNT and NBA TV airing two apiece.[40][38][39]

On January 23–27, the league will hold "NBA Rivals Week" for the second consecutive season, with every nationally televised game featuring "classic and budding rivalries between teams and players".[40]

On the final day of the regular season, April 14, two games with playoff implications will be flexed into ESPN's afternoon doubleheader.[40][37]

Local

See also: Diamond Sports Group § Bankruptcy

The 16 NBA teams who had deals with the Bally Sports regional sports networks may be affected by its operator Diamond Sports Group's March 14, 2023, decision to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Diamond had initially sought to continue broadcasting regional games while it plans to separate from majority parent Sinclair Broadcast Group as part of the reorganization.[41]

On April 20, 2023, the Phoenix Suns signed a five-year agreement with Gray Television to replace Bally Sports Arizona as their broadcaster. Most Suns games would then be carried on broadcast television by Gray's KTVK, KPHO-TV, or KPHE-LD in Phoenix (as well as a Gray station in Tucson, and a new Gray station in Yuma to launch before the season starts). The Suns will also operate an over-the-top subscription service.[27][42][43] After the announcement, Diamond accused the team of breaching its contract and bankruptcy law, stating that the team was making an "improper effort" to "change their broadcasting partner without permitting Diamond to exercise our contractual rights." In response, Phoenix Suns CEO Josh Bartelstein stated that "Diamond's position is totally inaccurate. We are moving forward with this deal and could not be more excited about what it means for our fans and our future."[27][42][44] On May 10, 2023, the bankruptcy judge voided the Suns contract with Gray, ruling that the Suns violated Bally Sports Arizona's contractual right of first refusal. He ordered the parties into arbitration.[45] On July 14, 2023, the deal became official when Diamond declined to match Gray's contract offer.[46]

In February 2023, Warner Bros. Discovery announced it was winding down its AT&T SportsNet regional sports network business, affecting the Houston Rockets and the Utah Jazz's broadcasters, AT&T SportsNet Southwest and AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain, respectively. The Portland Trail Blazers' deal with Root Sports Northwest is not affected because Warner Bros. Discovery only has minority control of that network.[47][48] On June 20, 2023, the Jazz reached an agreement with Sinclair Broadcast Group owned stations KJZZ-TV and KUTV to become its new television home. Jazz owner Ryan Smith will start a new in-house production division, SEG Media, to produce the telecasts. While all games will air on KJZZ, Sinclair retains the right to carry select telecasts on KUTV, and KUTV will maintain an "official station" relationship with the team, allowing more coverage of the Jazz and its players. The deal will also include a streaming service, which will not involve KJZZ-TV.[49] The Houston Rockets and the MLB's Houston Astros have continued to negotiate to take over AT&T SportsNet Southwest.[50]

References

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See also