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NBA TV Drives to Hole

Oct 5, 2008  •  Post A Comment

NBA TV is looking to score with a schedule loaded with live programming in prime time and a new multimillion-dollar marketing effort aimed at hard-core hoops fans.
The National Basketball Association made an earlier deal to have Turner Broadcasting run its digital assets, including cable channel NBA TV, its NBA League Pass package and its NBA.com Web site.

NBA TV poster

A LEG UP NBA TV print ads contrast Julius Erving, left, with LeBron James.

The changes made by Turner are coming online as the league readies to kick off its season this month.
The league will continue to use its slogan “Where Amazing Happens.” The Turner assets will use the tagline “The Game Happens Here” to show that even with NBA games on ABC, TNT, ESPN and regional sports networks, “We are basketball 24/7,” said Jenny Storms, senior VP of marketing and programming at Turner Sports.
NBA TV has been around since 1999 and is in 15 million homes.
“They’re facing some challenges in terms of distribution, and what you do is you try to get more promotion, you try to get more programming, so you can bring some pressure on the cable systems to clear the channel,” said sports consultant Neal Pilson.
Mr. Pilson noted that baseball’s new MLB Network will have 50 million subscribers when it launches because it made partners of most of the major cable and satellite distributors.
The NBA handles affiliate sales for NBA TV, and there have been reports that the league is planning to lower its license fee and offering equity to cable operators to get additional carriage. But the league hasn’t announced any new distribution deals.
“We’re in renewal discussions right now with our existing distributors and talking to prospective distributors about launching NBA TV,” a league spokesman said.
Ms. Storms said Turner is working closely with affiliate sales as it makes changes to the channel’s marketing and programming.
NBA TV will provide a preview that operators can offer subscribers free of charge from Oct. 28-Nov. 4. After that date, all NBA fans will continue to have access to NBA.com, and some will be able to get League Pass, which offers access to out-of-market NBA games.
The marketing campaign will run for two to four weeks, Ms. Storms said.
A commercial shows Boston Celtics stars at press conferences and in other off-court venues over the course of last year’s championship season, showing off the access that NBA TV provides.
Turner is buying time on such male-skewing networks as FX, Spike and G4, as well as ESPN.
The campaign will include some of the promo spots the league airs in basketball games on ESPN and TNT.
NBA TV will show 96 live games this season. The centerpiece of its programming is its Fan Night on Tuesdays, when fans can go to NBA.com to vote on which game is shown.
Ms. Storms said the network plans to air live programming on most other nights of the week and introduce other interactive elements for fans.

17 Comments

  1. I would love to have my cable company Suddenlink to give us access to NBA TV and the League Pass.
    Suddenlink claims that there are not alot of subcribers to get it. I think they don’t want to spend the money. I’m in a city 15 minutes from Austin, TX called Pflugerville, Tx. In Austin city you can get both with Grande and Time Warner. I miss it because I had it living New Orleans before Katrina and while living in Austin for awhile.

  2. This is getting a bit more subjective, but I much prefer the Zune Marketplace. The interface is colorful, has more flair, and some cool features like ‘Mixview’ that let you quickly see related albums, songs, or other users related to what you’re listening to. Clicking on one of those will center on that item, and another set of “neighbors” will come into view, allowing you to navigate around exploring by similar artists, songs, or users. Speaking of users, the Zune “Social” is also great fun, letting you find others with shared tastes and becoming friends with them. You then can listen to a playlist created based on an amalgamation of what all your friends are listening to, which is also enjoyable. Those concerned with privacy will be relieved to know you can prevent the public from seeing your personal listening habits if you so choose.

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