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Apple linked with NBA TV rights, here’s why it won’t happen

Apple TV could reportedly seek the broadcast rights to yet more live sports, following the bankruptcy of a provider in the United States.

According to a report from Bloomberg, multiple tech giants are preparing to pounce with a move for local NBA rights in the the United States.

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In the US, NBA teams are able to able to arrange their own broadcast deals for games that are aired in the local market, rather than on national television. Here in the States, they’re called Regional Sports Networks or RSNs.

Currently, many teams rights are owned by the Diamond Sports Group, which fronts the Bally Sports networks. Teams like the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Clippers, and Milwaukee Bucks are among 15 teams contracted to Bally Sports within their local markets.

Diamond filed for bankruptcy back in March, potentially opening up an opportunity for another party to acquire the rights as part of any restructuring, or eventual shutdown of the company.

Bloomberg now reports Apple could get involved should the rights come up for grabs, along with Google’s YouTube, Amazon, and Disney. The latter, of course, owns ESPN and the ESPN+ streaming service, which would be the most natural home for the games.

However, Apple has shown a huge interest in live sports in the last couple of years, having acquired the rights to MLB for its ‘Friday Night Baseball’ games, as well as the global rights to Major League Soccer currently paying dividends with the arrival of Leo Messi at Inter Miami.

One sticking point might be Apple’s inability to show these games outside of their local markets. Right now, Bally Sports, can only show teams’ NBA games within certain area codes. If you want to watch every Miami Heat game, for instance, outside of South Florida, then it’s necessary to subscribe to the NBA League Pass service. Internationally, League Pass is available too, while the League also makes deals with national broadcasters like Sky Sports.

Apple’s strategy to date has centred around the ability to show the rights to all subscribers around the world, rather than just some people in certain parts of the United States. That’s why this probably won’t happen.

We could definitely see YouTube going for it, because YouTube TV has struggled to retain the local sports rights, much to the chagrin of subscribers. This would be a great way to lock down those NBA and MLB teams currently with Bally. As we already mentioned, Disney is a good fit because of ESPN.

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