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NBA TV Gets Into the Game

Oct 26, 2008  •  Post A Comment

With the launch of a new NBA basketball season this week, NBA TV is launching a prime-time schedule emphasizing live programming.
This marks the first season the league-owned channel will be programmed and marketed by Turner Broadcasting under a deal signed earlier this year.
NBA TV will be home to 96 live regular-season games this year. With TNT airing games on Thursdays and ESPN showing the NBA on Wednesdays and Fridays, NBA TV will have gamecasts on Tuesdays, Saturdays, Sundays and some Mondays.
The network has created live theme nights for Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
“We want to build more of an appointment programming mentality in the fan base by theming three nights, including Fan Night,” said Bryan Perez, senior VP and general manager of NBA Digital.
The centerpiece of Fan Night on Tuesdays is that visitors to NBA.com will be able to select which game the network will televise. This week, however, TNT will be broadcasting NBA games on Tuesday, so NBA TV will be warming up for the season with host Ahmad Rashad and TNT commentators Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith. (“Combining the TNT and NBA TV talent pool creates cost synergies,” Mr. Perez said.)
On normal nights during the season, Mr. Rashad will host the evening with a cast of NBA TV and TNT analysts including Steve Smith and Eric Snow. The halftime and postgame shows will feature interaction, with on-air talk about topics being discussed on NBA.com.
“It’s all about engaging that hard-core fan, allowing them to vote and really program the network that night,” Mr. Perez said.
Wednesday night is Premiere Night. Mr. Johnson will host as the network showcases original programming being produced by both Turner and NBA Productions. This week, the network will debut “Roundtable,” with Portland center Greg Oden discussing life with legendary big men Bill Russell, Bob Lanier, Bill Walton, Patrick Ewing and David Robinson. “Roundtable” is hosted by Andre Aldridge. Late nights on Wednesday will be hosted by Marc Fein.
Making its debut next Wednesday is “Real NBA.”
Thursday will be Legends Night, when the network looks at the league’s history using its access to the entire NBA Films library. This week, NBA TV will look at the Houston Rockets’ championship years. That Mr. Perez grew up in Houston “is a little coincidental,” he said.
The new programming will be broadcast from a new set and employ new graphics. One element of the set is a separate NBA.com desk equipped with a robotic camera so that an anchor can announce the latest news as it breaks.
Future shows could be determined by input from fans, Mr. Perez said.
Adding and enhancing video has been a focus of renovating NBA.com, he said.
“We added indexing and search capabilities to our video, and higher-quality streams in the 16-by-9 format,” he said. “We’re making a lot of effort in video because we think that’s one of our strengths.”
While much of the video on NBA.com now will be repurposed from NBA TV, Mr. Perez said NBA Digital is evaluating some video programming that starts on the Web site.

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