Charles Barkley Slams TNT Executives Amid NBA Rights Uncertainty

NBA broadcasting dynamics shift as rights negotiations heat up

by Zain ul Abedin
Charles Barkley Slams TNT Executives Amid NBA Rights Uncertainty
© Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Charles Barkley expressed his discontent loudly on "The Dan Patrick Show" this Thursday, lamenting over the missteps by TNT executives that may result in the network losing its NBA broadcast rights. The NBA Hall of Famer, known for his candid demeanor, did not mince words when he criticized Warner Bros.

Discovery for jeopardizing what he considers the best sports studio show on television. The tension stems from Warner Bros. Discovery's decision to invest in college football rights, a move Barkley feels was misguided. "I don’t feel good, I’m not gonna lie—especially when they came out and said we bought college football.

I was like, ‘Well damn, they could’ve used that money to buy the NBA,’” Barkley revealed, referring to TNT Sports’ recent deal to license college football playoff games from ESPN. This decision came at a time when securing the NBA rights should have been a priority, according to Barkley.

NBA Rights Battle Intensifies

Currently, the NBA broadcasting rights are divided, with Disney holding the 'A' rights, which include the NBA Finals, while TNT has the 'B' package. The contracts are up for negotiation, and it seems Disney might retain its package for double the price, while NBC Sports and Amazon are poised to claim portions of the remaining rights.

Warner Bros. Discovery has a chance to match these offers, focusing possibly on Amazon's bid, as per reports by CNBC. Barkley also took a shot at Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav, who previously stated in November 2022 that the company did not "need" the NBA—a comment that, in Barkley's view, likely irritated NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

He humorously compared his dissatisfaction with the company's direction to a downgrade in wine quality, saying, “My two favorite wines are Inglenook and Opus, and these clowns I work for, they turned us into Ripple, and Boone’s Farm, and Thunderbird." Despite the turmoil, Barkley remains open to innovative solutions, including potentially licensing "Inside the NBA" through his own production company.

He shared that a follower online suggested this idea, hinting at possible future endeavors outside the traditional broadcast structure.

Charles Barkley