NBA Reportedly Set to Finalize Deals With ESPN, Amazon and NBCU, Leave TNT and 'Inside the NBA' Behind

 Inside the NBA.
Inside the NBA.

In the history of televised sports, it's hard to find better example than TNT's Inside the NBA in which a league's brand was so intimately intertwined with that of a broadcast partner.

But Sports Business Journal is reporting that the NBA is ready to leave the studio show, TNT and parent company Warner Bros. Discovery behind, as it finalizes new live-game deals totaling $7.4 billion a season with Disney/ESPN, Amazon and Comcast/NBCUniversal.

The specifics are hard to confirm, since this is still an active negotiation involving multiple parties, but the matter could wind up in court.

Warner is said to have five days to match NBCU's offer, but the cash-strapped conglomerate's announcement of a deal with ESPN to sublicense College Football Playoff rights, announced Wednesday, probably indicates the direction an NBA renewal is headed.

Speaking at JP Morgan conference sit-down in Boston, WBD CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels reiterated his company's assertion that it has the ability to match any rival bid for its incumbent rights.

"We look at this as still very much an ongoing negotiation, Wiedenfels said. "We have a great partnership with the NBA, we value the product. And we're very hopeful that we're going to be able to find a solution that's mutually beneficial for both sides. ... But we do have contractual matching."

The negotiations center around deals that would start with the 2025-26 NBA season.

ESPN will reportedly pay $2.8 billion for a lions share that includes the NBA Finals, one of the two conference finals and WNBA primetime games.

NBCU, meanwhile, is reportedly ready to pay $2.6 billion for a package that includes two primetime games a week, a conference semifinal and a conference final. NBCU would also produce its own studio show, Basketball Night in America, which would start January, at the conclusion of the NFL regular season and Sunday Night Football.

Amazon is said to be set to pay $between $1.8 billion - $2 billion for a package that includes the In-Season Tournament, which runs November - December, as well as first-round playoff games.

If these deals are signed, and WBD walks away -- or a court ultimately insists it walk away -- there would be no remaining purpose for Inside the NBA.

Show star Charles Barkley said earlier this month that he factored WBD's potential loss of NBA rights in his 10-year Warner contracted signed two years ago, and he can thus sign with any of the league's other broadcast partners in such a scenario.

But the fates of co-stars Shaquille O'Neal and Kenny Smith, as well as host Ernie Johnson, are less clear at this point.