Sports Media: NBA’s Koenig offers insight on league’s approach to changing media market

pg 14 Ourand Bill Koenig 0230 credit Marc Bryan Brown
pg 14 Ourand Bill Koenig 0230 credit Marc Bryan Brown

The NBA’s upcoming media rights deal, still six months away, promises to usher in a new era, and Bill Koenig, the league’s president of global content and media distribution, has shared pivotal insights into the negotiation strategy. Addressing the SBJ’s Media Innovators conference in New York, Koenig highlighted the significant transformations awaiting the media landscape.

In a dynamic shift, digital companies are poised to secure major broadcasting packages, challenging the traditional dominance of broadcast networks and cable channels. With streaming services like Netflix and Prime Video amassing millions of subscribers globally, the definition of reach is evolving. Koenig suggested that the NBA might reverse the typical simulcast model, emphasizing digital distribution with linear TV serving as a supplementary platform.

The NBA plans to entice digital companies with the abundance of live events, boasting about 320 nights of live programming per year, including WNBA games. Koenig emphasized that digital platforms prefer investing in proven sports programming rather than risking budgets on entertainment shows.

To enhance its appeal, the NBA will bundle international and local rights into its overall deal. All international rights deals are set to conclude by 2025, aligning with the league’s strategy to attract global streaming giants like Amazon, Apple, Google, and Netflix. This mirrors a successful tactic employed by MLS, which consolidated its rights into a comprehensive package, securing a lucrative deal with Apple.

The NBA’s lucrative deals in key markets like China and Britain position it for a global agreement, provided a digital giant with a market cap exceeding $1 trillion, such as Apple, Amazon, or Google, steps up with a groundbreaking bid. Koenig noted that digital companies seek programming with global resonance rather than individual market purchases, making the NBA’s strategy of packaging local rights alongside international ones particularly appealing.

Addressing a longstanding issue, Koenig predicted the end of blackouts, envisioning a future where fans worldwide can access games through the NBA app without restrictions. Even non-subscribers can have options to purchase game access, eliminating the concept of dead ends. This user-friendly approach aligns with the NBA’s vision for global accessibility and engagement.

As the NBA gears up for this transformative negotiation, the evolving media landscape promises a paradigm shift in sports broadcasting, fan experience, and global reach.

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