Sky Sports snatches away exclusive NBA rights from BT Sport in 4-year deal

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UK-based pay-television broadcaster Sky Sports has acquired the exclusive rights to the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the next four seasons spanning from 2018-19 to 2021-22.

The four-year, multi-platform broadcast deal will also see live games and highlights of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) starting from May 2019. The announcement comes after the incumbent BT Sport publicly stated its decision to relinquish the NBA UK rights in July this year.

The NBA, which has historically negotiated its UK rights contracts on an annual basis, has now secured an exclusive broadcast partner and official website operator rights in the UK and Ireland for a significant term.

Sky Sports will broadcast extensive season-long games and programming, including more than 170 live matches and a record number of live weekend primetime fixtures starting from 8.30pm UK time.

NBA EMEA vice-president, global media distribution, Elsa Memmi, said “We are thrilled to be partnering with Sky Sports in the UK and Ireland. With a record number of weekend primetime games, a season-long schedule of live games and programming, and extensive highlights available online and on mobile, Sky Sports will be the true home of the NBA for fans.”

The NBA recently ended its UK website partnership with Give Me Sport and that contract now also goes to Sky, with the media company becoming the league’s UK digital hub with extensive video highlights, news, stats, scores and original content.

Sky’s coverage will debut with an opening night double-header in the early hours of Wednesday, featuring the Boston Celtics against the Philadelphia 76ers and the Oklahoma City Thunder taking on reigning champions the Golden State Warriors.

Starting 20th October, Sky will offer one match a week on its non-subscription Mix service, with full NBA coverage spread across its other paid-for channels.

Throughout the season the network will air an average of five live games per week, including 42 games in primetime as part of the league’s NBA Saturdays and NBA Sundays Europe-wide weekend primetime initiative. The deal also includes the rights to the NBA London Game in January, plus a bumper schedule on Christmas Day, as well as additional shoulder programming.

The move comes as a result of BT Sport, Sky’s rival broadcaster in UK, announcing in July its decision to part with rights to NBA and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) after being put off by the hefty rights package valuation.

Back in July Sky’s UK subscription rival BT Sport announced its decision to drop the NBA after being put off by the package valuation. It still holds exclusive Champions League rights as well as the secondary Premier League package for which it is reportedly spending around $1.31 billion annually on these packages,

BT sports channels will, however, continue to show NBA until the end of October and UFC until December.

BT and Sky have recently faced severe competition in the media rights market from Eleven Sports, with the OTT platform recently picking up rights to Italian Serie A, Spanish LaLiga and the UFC.

Also Read: BT Sport to part with UFC and NBA TV rights