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The conglomerate’s sports division has signed long-term deals with Inside the NBA hosts Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal. Terms weren’t disclosed, but WBD Sports said in announcing the deals that the new contracts will keep the quartet together “for many years to come.” Sports Business Journal reported Barkley’s deal runs 10 years.
“Our partnership with the NBA is very important to us and this long-term agreement with the Inside the NBA team is recognition of their significance to that relationship,” Warner Bros. Discovery Sports chairman and CEO Luis Silberwasser said in a statement. “Inside the NBA epitomizes the creativity and innovative spirit we’ve established throughout our successful, long-standing partnership with the league.”
The length of the Inside the NBA contracts is significant because the league’s current media deal with TNT and ESPN is up after the 2024-25 season. By committing to long-term deals for its studio show — which is entering its 34th year as the NBA begins its season this week — WBD is likely signaling its intent to remain among the league’s TV partners in the next rights package. That deal is expected to draw multiple bidders, with streaming companies looking to get a piece of the action alongside traditional broadcast and cable outlets.
The Barkley contract — which Kathleen Finch, WBD’s U.S. Networks Group chair, teased to The Hollywood Reporter in a recent interview — will also likely close off speculation that the NBA Hall of Famer was looking for a new gig. Over the summer, Barkley went public with what he makes at TNT and threatened to leave for the upstart, Saudi-backed LIV Golf.
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