Almost every streaming service that offers live mainstream TV networks markets itself as like “The” place to stream sports. Just look at the advertising on Sling.com, YouTube TV, Fubo TV and more. The sports of course are available via things like broadcast TV channels, the ESPN family of networks, and Fox Sports. But Peacock right now has an opportunity to differentiate itself if it is aggressive. There is a potential national sports network just sitting there waiting to be gobbled up/cobbled together as well as substantial league rights that might need a new home.
First off let’s talk Bally Sports. Bally Sports looks by all reasonable observations to be going bankrupt. Sinclair has failed to garner enough interest from cable and streaming providers to get the former FOX Sports channels on the market in a substantial enough way to make it profitable. And its valiant attempt to market them directly to consumers has come up empty as well. With Peacock growing but still needing to add content that will give it an edge or at least seriously differentiate it in the market it may be able to make sense of purchasing the sports networks and integrating them into the fold. They feel like they would fit in with the $9.99 tier. Does Comcast have the money and the know-how to make it all work? The company already pulled its own sports network NBC Sports Network into the app. With the combined coverage area of NBC Sports and Bally Sports footprint Peacock could begin to put together something of a national footprint across NBA, NHL, and NBA markets.
NBA TV Rights
Speaking of the NBA, even if Peacock/Comcast decides not to make a play for the failing RSNs, the company may well be a suitor for NBA TV rights when the long-time deal with Turner Sports expires. Warner Brothers Discovery has shown its cards and it looks like it may be willing to part with the TV rights that have built up a following for decades and birthed the Emmy-winning Inside The NBA. We have even wondered aloud if WBD was thinking of selling the Turner Networks TBS and TNT outright. That would be a whole different story. But if the NBA TV rights that currently reside with TNT become available Comcast would be the obvious landing spot. With a major broadcast network, NBC along with multiple other channels, notably USA, that could house NBA telecasts. It would not be at all difficult to imagine Inside The NBA on USA. Peacock made a great play for the WWE library and live premium events, which has worked out great for both sides of that arrangement. The streamer also has racing, Olympic sports, Notre Dame Football, and Sunday Night Football. The NBA would fit right in and even be a homecoming of sorts for the league which was partnered with NBC through Michael Jordan’s run to greatness accompanied by John Tesh’s Roundball Rock.
Of the two moves, the one with the least amount of moving pieces is definitely the NBA move. It’s one big piece of pie instead of multiple TV markets with multiple negotiations to figure out. Comcast has the advantage of owning multiple cable channels that could factor into negotiations for carriage. This kind of move would put Peacock in a place to really stand out VS Paramount+, which right now is its most similar competitor. Both have access to network programming, original content and a live feed of local affiliates, but if Peacock adds NBA Basketball to the mix it would be a landing spot for millions who currently have no spot outside of cable replacement services and ABC over the air.
This is worth paying close attention to.