Adam Silver Comments on ‘Inside the NBA,’ New TV Deals, Cable’s Decline

The NBA commissioner explained why streaming is more important than cable while discussing new TV deals.
Feb 17, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; NBA Commissioner Adam Silver talks to media during a press conference before NBA All Star Saturday Night at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 17, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; NBA Commissioner Adam Silver talks to media during a press conference before NBA All Star Saturday Night at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports / Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

1. A LOT has been said and written about the NBA’s new television deals, which have not been made official yet.

Multiple reports over multiple weeks have stated that ESPN, NBC and Amazon will become the league’s rights partners after next season, leaving TNT (Warner Brothers Discovery) out.

Before Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday, we finally heard from commissioner Adam Silver about the television deals.

Obviously, Silver had to play things somewhat close to the vest because the new deals are not done, but he did offer a glimpse into what the league is thinking and what the process has been like for him.

“It has been difficult,” Silver said in response to a question about the possibility of TNT’s Inside the NBA coming to an end. “That show, in particular, is special and I have a close relationship with everyone who’s on that show from the time they played in the league. And Ernie [Johnson] and I have been friends forever.

“At the same time, it’s not just the talent, of course. There’s hundreds of people who are involved with, what I still refer to as Turner Sports, who have been longtime friends and colleagues. On one hand, from the league standpoint, it’s fantastic to be liked and to be wanted and to have multiple suitors. At the same time, it makes me uncomfortable, but it’s zero-sum.

“At the end of the day, there’s only gonna be so many television packages, Finals games, playoff games, regular season games to distribute. I will say directly from me to the people who seem to be most impacted right now, the folks at Turner Sports, is I apologize that this has been a prolonged process."

Silver added, “No one likes this uncertainty and it’s on the league office to bring these negotiations to a head and conclude them as quickly as they can.”

That certainly sounds ominous for TNT. As did further comments from Silver.

“It has as much to do with where media is moving,” said Silver.

“If you watch where eyeballs are going, we’re all moving into watching premium programming on streaming services.”

Silver continued to explain why Amazon has appeal and why TNT may not.

“Trying to predict how fast this will move is what’s so difficult,” he said. "There has been a faster decline in cable, viewership and usage, than people were predicting only even two years ago. The move is happening fast to streaming services. So what we’re trying to do as part of these television deals is middle the broadcast platform, of course we have the Finals on ABC, still matter tremendously to us.

“Traditional cable, it’s not going away but it’s continuing to decrease. And then streaming platforms are seeing accelerated growth, particularly around premium live sports. So we’re trying to put hand, foot, finger in every one of those buckets."

One reporter asked Silver about the reports that WBD has matching rights for the NBC and Amazon’s offers.

“I’m not gonna get into that only because it’s a complex legal issue,” said Silver.

With broadcast still having massive reach, it makes sense that the NBA would partner up with NBC, while also remaining partners with ABC and ESPN. With streaming taking over everything, it’s easy to understand why Peacock, which will reportedly air half of NBC’s games, and Amazon have appeal.

Warner Brothers discovery can offer cable’s TNT outlet and the Max streaming service, but that doesn't appear to be enough.

2. This was a touching and heartfelt moment between JJ Redick and Doris Burke after Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday when Redick acknowledged Burke becoming the first woman to call a major men’s championship game.

3. I really don’t want to pile on this Golf Channel reporter who has gone viral for thinking she was interviewing former Texas quarterback Vince Young even though she was not interviewing former Texas quarterback Vince Young.

I also say that people make mistakes and things like this happen sometimes.

However, what struck me the most about this clip was not her mistake. It’s that she never apologized, never said my bad, never acknowledged her blunder. She just kept going. It just made this entire mess even more bizarre.

4. Friday is Pat Sajak’s last day as host of Wheel of Fortune. Sajak has been with the iconic game show since 1981. Here’s some Sajak content if you’re in the mood to reminisce.

5. I don’t like to fight with people on Twitter, so I just want to address this tweet here.

This was meant to be a pithy, light-hearted observation, although, I do think it’s ridiculous that this is how we should still put tarp on a baseball filed. But even pithy and light-hearted brings out the dopes on Twitter.

One comment I received multiple times was “why do you want to eliminate jobs?”

Do these people actually think the Yankees pay all those people just to roll out the tarp, what, five to seven times a year? Do these people not think the groundscrew has other responsibilities and nobody would lose their jobs?

The second comment I kept getting referred to Vince Coleman getting injured by an automatic tarp roller in 1985.

Do these dummies not think technology has advanced over the last 30 years? And just because Vince Coleman got injured, that doesn’t mean we don’t try to give the automatic roller another chance.

6. A brand-new episode of SI Media With Jimmy Traina dropped Thursday and it features an interview with The Athletic’s Andrew Marchand, who shares information and gives updates on the biggest news in sports media.

Topics covered include the latest developments with the NBA's future TV deals with ESPN, NBC and Amazon and where things stand with Warner Brothers Discovery/TNT. Marchand also reveals what he thinks NBC's plan is for a lead broadcast team, what will happen with the Inside the NBA crew of Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O'Neal, whether Barkley could end up at ESPN and why the relationship between TNT and the NBA deteriorated.

Marchand also discusses the Pat McAfee–Caitlin Clark controversy, the media's coverage of Clark and the WNBA and Tom Brady's future at Fox.

Following Marchand, Sal Licata from WFAN and SNY joins me for our weekly "Traina Thoughts" segment. This week's topics include new sports TV shows that are on the radar and the Yankees' dominance. Plus, we read the latest Apple reviews for SI Media With Jimmy Traina.

You can listen to SI Media With Jimmy Traina below or on Apple and Spotify.

You can also watch SI Media With Jimmy Traina on Sports Illustrated‘s YouTube channel.

7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: Today, June 7, would've been the 66th birthday of Prince, who died in 2016. He still has the greatest halftime show of all time.

Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on AppleSpotify or Google. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram.


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Jimmy Traina

JIMMY TRAINA

Jimmy Traina is a media writer and podcast host for Sports Illustrated. A 20-year veteran, he’s been covering the media industry for seven years and writes a weekly column at SI, Traina Thoughts. Jimmy has hosted the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast since 2018, a show known for interviews with some of the most important and powerful people in sports media. He also was the creator and writer for SI’s Hot Clicks feature from 2007 to 2013.