Turner Sports goes all in on NBA All-Star 2019 this week, with live coverage from Charlotte starting Feb. 14 marking the company’s 34th year of coverage leading into the 68th NBA All-Star Game presented by Kia on Feb. 17 across TNT and TBS at 8p. With all hands on deck for the programming staple, Cynopsis Sports asked Lenny Daniels, President of Turner Sports, about how the company’s storied run with NBA All-Star, what we can expect this year, and the company’s new deal with Caesars.
Daniels on the evolution of NBA All-Star Week: NBA All-Star is a staple event for Turner Sports and we’ve continually built on the fan experience each year, with this one being our most ambitious yet. In addition to all of the weekend’s marquee events airing on TNT, including a full accompaniment of original programming, we’ll have an array of fan-centric activations as part of the NBA on TNT American Express Road Show from Charlotte’s Music Factory district. Inside the NBA will do several shows from that location, which will also feature musical performances, comedians and much more. We’ll also have a star-studded ELEAGUE event featuring NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 on Friday and a Bleacher Report fan fest with a special House of Highlights experience on Sunday afternoon leading up to the NBA All-Star Game.
On content: We’re seeing that fans have an insatiable appetite for NBA content. We share a common vision with the NBA to continuously innovate and create immersive experiences across a growing number of platforms, because that’s what today’s fans expect and deserve from us. We’ll offer fans more than 24 hours of NBA All-Star programming across TNT and NBA TV, a Players Only simulcast of the NBA All-Star Game on TBS, comprehensive coverage throughout the NBA Digital portfolio, and all of the best moments shared across B/R and its popular House of Highlights platform. We’re also partnering with Intel to offer live coverage of the weekend’s events through the NBA on TNT VR app and we’ll debut NBA Twitter Live through @NBAonTNT, an iso-camera view on a fan-voted player over the second half of the NBA All-Star Game.
On ad sales: There’s incredibly high demand for Turner’s NBA content, and our sales teams achieved record revenue levels with an earlier sell-out this year. Joining some of our long-standing partners such as American Express, Autotrader and Kia are new sponsors including AT&T presenting the Slam Dunk contest and TCL presenting a special show focused on All-Star Captain Giannis Antetokounmpo. Existing partner Mtn Dew is promoting a new product with the 2019 MTN DEW ICE Rising Stars. On the ground, we are excited to have our great partners activate around a number of fan-focused events, like the NBA on TNT American Express Road Show and Intel presenting ELEAGUE NBA 2K Playgrounds 2: All-Star Throwdown 2019. B/R’s House of Highlights will also be activating at NBA All-Star for the first time, with a McDonald’s-sponsored ‘optimized for Instagram’ space that will feature live programming, a gaming lounge and other activities that celebrate North Carolina’s rich basketball heritage. So, across the board, this is a special year from a sales standpoint.
On the esports addition: NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 has been a hit game and there’s a natural connection between the fun, entertaining and fast-paced nature of the gameplay with all of excitement from NBA All-Star. We’ve worked closely with 2K and the NBPA to facilitate this showcase event and it’s going to be a fan-friendly exhibition with a star-studded cast participating in a fun competition later this week.
On Caesars: This is a truly a first-of-its-kind relationship and it’s significant in many ways. We’ve seen incredibly strong engagement levels and growth in the consumption of gaming-related content across B/R platforms and this will take our capabilities to the next level. The new B/R branded studio inside the Caesars Palace Sports Book will become a central hub for the creation of a wide assortment of gaming-related content and Caesars will be prominently featured as a B/R gaming partner. We have a shared vision with Caesars to continue to innovate in this space and we believe this is only the beginning. We anticipate more gaming content and broader integrations into sports programming in the future. That type of content is driving fan engagement, which lends to more time spent viewing and, ultimately, higher viewership.