Could TNT and TBS Be Sold?
While it might seem like every major streaming service and many major TV networks covet live sports, especially major brands apparently it is not uniform. Warner Brothers Discovery CEO David Zaslav seems to feel that the value of the NBA at least, has a ceiling that he is not willing to pass. On top of that, Zaslav is uninterested in what the NBA looks like in its current state and more interested in what it will bring to the table in the future.
“We don’t have to have the NBA. And if we do a new deal with the NBA, it’s gonna look a lot different,” Zaslav said. “I’d like to do a deal with the NBA, but it has to be a deal for the future. It can’t be a deal for the past.”
If WBD does decide that the NBA is not worth it going forward it would end a decades-long relationship that features the Emmy-winning Inside The NBA Postgame show and is home to the NBA Playoffs and multiple regular season games.
Some wonder if that means the end of the NBA on TNT, but I think the question should be, who will buy Turner’s entertainment channels? TBS and TNT. While WBD has not discussed ditching the cable channels it did spend the last year canceling essentially all scripted programming on TNT and TBS.
Since the merger that created Warner Brothers Discovery, the name of the game at the company has been cost-cutting. Series have been canceled all over the entertainment division including the crown jewel property HBO. The company has also chosen to wind down its content on the CW including DC properties like The Legends of Tomorrow. Would it be so out of the ordinary to package TBS and TNT or even just one of them and sell to the highest bidder? With relationships with the NBA, NHL and the NCAA tournament in place, TNT would be a big-time feather in the hat of any media company trying to get into sports. We feel there are two realistic landing spots.
Paramount Inc is the parent company of CBS and Showtime, The Paramount Network as well as the streaming service Paramount+ could be a soft landing for the Turner entertainment networks because they would add a niche that is not covered by the current footprint of the network. Another cooperate sibling within the Paramount Inc family is Viacom which houses, Nickelodeon, MTV, VH1 and Comedy Central. The networks are very niche so there is room to grow both a sports niche if it chose to use TNT that way as well as a general entertainment network with TBS. The relationships would also bring most of the NCAA tournament under one roof. During March Madness, CBS and the Turner networks share access so that viewers have the ability to watch all of the tournament’s games live.
The new alignment would give Paramount a foothold with the NFL through CBS sports, The NBA, the NHL and Major League Baseball. It could ad value to the Paramount+ streaming service and give the company more negotiating power within the sports world in general.
Comcast is working to make Peacock a destination for sports, and in many ways it already is one. Peacock streams Sunday Night Football, Notre Dame Football and NASSCAR, as well as Olympic sports and parts of the Olympic games. If the Comcast where to outright buy TNT and TBS they would be added to the company’s portfolio which also includes Syfy, USA Network, Bravo, E!, Oxygen, Universal Kids, along with MSNBC and CNBC. TNT and TBS would fit in nicely with the current lineup. And the sports assets would enhance what is already in place. Not only that, the company could promote content via its free service, Xumo as well as the free channels section of Peacock. In another twist, the addition of TNT would also put another major pro wrestling promotion’s content on Peacock and allow the service to be essentially the one and only destination for Sports Entertainment. Something to think about.