With the new National Basketball Association TV deal about to kick off, Turner Network Television
and ESPN/ABC Tuesday all hyped the strengths of their own coverage.
TNT's most powerful weapon is its Thursday-night exclusive games, which are
the only games leaguewide and not subject to local blackouts. Under the new
six-year deal, TNT will also air the NBA All-Star Game and more playoff
contests, including a conference final. This may be Turner's 19th season as the
NBA's cable outlet, but the package has never been this sweet before.
Together, ABC and ESPN will offer three helpings of pro basketball per week --
a Sunday game of the week on ABC and Wednesday and Friday nights on ESPN.
ABC is taking its pregame show on location to its NBA games, akin to ESPN's
popular College GameDay show for college-football Saturdays.
ESPN's coverage may look the most interesting thanks to three new camera
angles. One camera will be rigged to the ceiling for a full aerial view, another
embedded in the floor under each basket and a third above the rim of each hoop.
As part of the TV deal, the networks will cross-promote each others' games.
"It is smart for them and good for us," Turner Sports president Mark
Both Turner and ESPN/ABC boast veteran broadcast teams that mix former
basketball players with experienced broadcasters. TNT is giving two of its
personalities -- loud-mouthed basketball great Charles Barkley and studio host
Ernie Johnson -- a pregame talk show, Listen Up!, billed as a lively mix
of entertainment, sports and news.
TNT's first game is Oct. 29, and ESPN picks up Oct. 30. There's no basketball
on broadcast TV until ABC's Christmas Day doubleheader.