04/27/20: NBA TV has had to tweak shows such as NBA GameTime amid the pandemic


Medias First Morning Read
Monday April 27, 2020

As the NBA maps out a way for a potential return in amid the pandemic, NBA TV continue to chug on, and has had to re-visualize its approach to programming and content that, in recent weeks, has showcased new insights on archive programming that include themes such as the top first round playoffs games, Kobe’s final game and more. With a challenge to continue to serve fans, the network has found ways to also continue its staple programming, albeit from remote locations, anchored by series such as NBA GameTime. Cynopsis Sports asked Scooter Vertino, SVP of Programming, Production & Content, Turner Sports and NBA Digital, about the challenges and how the network has risen up for its audiences.

Vertino on NBA TV’s approach to content creation during the pandemic: First and foremost, throughout all of Turner Sports, we’ve prioritized the safety, health and well-being of our employees. Applying work from home guidelines, our teams have been very creative and innovative when it comes to content creation and the delivery of it across our platforms. They’ve been incredibly nimble, as we’ve had some level of original programming on NBA TV for more than six weeks now, with everything produced remotely. Led by John O’Connor and Brent Berkman, we quickly jumped in to determine not only how we could best produce everything from home, but what also made for the best possible content for the linear network.

Very early on, after only a few days of testing, we were up and running with NBA GameTime (using KISWE technology) and it’s been airing Monday-Friday ever since. The NBA has such a passionate, engaged fan base on social media, so our approach has been focused on capturing those best moments while also connecting with NBA players for interviews from their home.

On mobilizing: We’re very fortunate to have such a talented team in place and, even in these times, we have no shortage of resources to help bring everything to life in a safe, controlled way. Even with everything done remotely, we’ve been able to utilize different teams of colleagues to contribute to each content initiative – from NBA GameTime to our Popcasts (classic games with a pop-up video feel) and Film Room (players narrating their best performances). It’s all been so well coordinated and, despite the grind of everything being significantly more challenging in today’s environment, those teams deserve so much credit for balancing everything. In every one of our daily calls, it’s been amazing to hear the incredible amount of creativity and drive from our that group.

On offering a contemporary twist on classic games: Our “Film Study” games have been on our to do list for quite some time. With the temporary absence of live sports, it’s allowed us to focus in on the execution. It’s been pretty amazing to see the buy-in we’ve received, from current players (Trae Young), our own talent (Steve Smith, Isiah Thomas, Dennis Scott, Kevin McHale), our friend Bill Simmons and the greatest scorer in the history of the league, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Everyone has really enjoyed themselves throughout the process and I think the final product shows that these guys still get really into it! It’s been a treat to watch. The beauty of these is the NBAE library is so comprehensive and gaining access to any of these games is pretty seamless.

On planning for the future: Clearly, everything is fluid and that’s a challenge everyone is facing continuously. While it’s impossible to predict the future, as we look to plan content and programming, we’re set up to be nimble and pivot very quickly when opportunities come up. For instance, if a player reaches out and wants to get involved with Film Study or be a guest on NBA GameTime, we’ll be in position to make it happen. Naturally, those are great “problems” to have!

I can’t say enough about the programming and content teams and how they haven’t missed a beat throughout this entire process. I never would’ve anticipated an edition of Open Court with all the talent contributing remotely, or the Dallas Mavericks’ Rick Carlisle spearheading a show with all of his assistants demonstrating drills that can be done from home.

The question is how can we carry over some of these ideas when we eventually return to some semblance of normalcy? I’d like to think so. Watching what is being created and televised currently on NBA TV has been a treat, especially under these circumstances, and that’s a credit to the crew that has been working so hard every day.


An outstanding presentation of the 2020 NFL Draft delivered all-time highs for the league. Boasting over 600 camera feeds from homes across the United States, all telecasts of the 2020 NFL Draft reached more than 55 million total viewers across Nielsen-measured channels over the three-day event for a rise of 16% over 2019. The draft drew an average audience of over 8.4 million viewers who watched all three days of the 2020 NFL Draft across ABC, ESPN, NFL Network, ESPN Deportes, and digital channels easily breaking the previous high of 6.2 million viewers in 2019. Each day of the 2020 NFL Draft drew new highs as an average audience of over 15.6 million viewers watched Round 1 on Thursday (+37% vs. 2019), over 8.2 million viewers watched Rounds 2 & 3 on Friday (+40% vs. 2019), and over 4.2 million viewers watched Rounds 4-7 on Saturday (+32% vs. 2019). Top-10 metered markets across all networks included (rating in parenthesis): Columbus, Ohio (8.8), Cleveland (8.7), Philadelphia (8.6), Kansas City (8.5), Cincinnati (8.5), Atlanta (8.2), Jacksonville (8.1), Nashville (8.0), Milwaukee (7.8), and Denver/Baltimore (7.0).

In addition to NFL Draft, an average of over 5.4 million daily viewers watched in excess of 46.7 million total minutes of “Draft-A-Thon LIVE,” a massive fundraising campaign aimed at raising funds for COVID-19 relief efforts. In addition to raising funds, Draft-A-Thon LIVE paid tribute to healthcare workers, first responders, and others on the front lines of the battle with COVID-19. To date, the NFL family has raised more than $100 million in COVID-19 relief.

Continuing the theme, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that the NFL will be recommitting to Las Vegas for the 87th annual NFL Draft in 2022. The new comes after the 2020 Draft events in Las Vegas were canceled due to COVID-19. “I’m pleased to announce that Las Vegas will host the 2022 NFL Draft, where we look forward to holding an even bigger and better event than we could have ever imagined this year,” said Goodell, “Congratulations to Las Vegas, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, the Raiders’ organization and Raider Nation.”

The UFC is reportedly moving forward with plans to host three events in Florida across an eight-day period, including UFC 249 on May 9, UFC president Dana White told ESPN on Friday, noting that the UFC also booked cards for May 13 and May 16. All three cards will take place at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville without a live audience.

ESPN announced the cancellation of X Games Minneapolis 2020. In a statement, the company stated that “Due to the ongoing COVID-19 concerns, X Games Minneapolis 2020 – July 17-19 – has been cancelled. The safety of the athletes, staff and spectators is our top priority, and we will continue to closely monitor the situation for all X Games events.”

With live sports and esports events being cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, where are the fans going during lockdown and how are they engaging? Find out in one week during Cynopsis’ Webinar: Building A Super-Bond with Fans During the Pandemic. On Thursday, April 30 at 1:30p ET, you’ll learn how leagues, rights holders & brands are strengthening their connections with fans.

Electronic Arts and ESPN announced new Madden NFL 20 Championship Series programming that began with five consecutive hours yesterday on ESPN2, and will continue with coverage of the Madden NFL 20 Bowl, with group play running May 6-9 at 5p, along with May 14-16. The Semi-finals and Finals will be carried on ESPN on May 16 starting at 5p. “At a time where live sports are paused, esports has stepped up as an incredible source of entertainment, inspiration and joy for fans across the world,” said Todd Sitrin, SVP and GM of the EA Competitive Gaming Division. “Through this exciting programming with ESPN, we can invite the broader sports community to be a part of the unique and authentic Madden esports competition, keeping gamers and traditional sports fans alike connected, while staying safe at home.”

NBCSN today launches more than 50 hours of classic sports events from the past 45+ years via NBC Sports From the Vault, featuring Notre Dame Football, the Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, NHL classics, French Open tennis and PGA TOUR golf. Running through May 3, NBCSN will present nightly primetime programming from NBC Sports’ vault of historic games, spanning four sports across nearly half a decade. Athletes that will be featured over the course of the week include Tiger Woods, Wayne Gretzky, Serena Williams, Roger Federer, and Alex Ovechkin as well as legendary teams dating to the 1970s Philadelphia Flyers, Boston Bruins, and USC Trojans, the 1980s Miami Hurricanes, and the 1990s Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Florida State Seminoles. Throughout the week, former athletes will provide commentary on the classic games.

Building A Super-Bond with Audiences During the Pandemic
Thursday, APR 30 | 1:30-3pm ET

It’s always been true that viewer connection is the most important predictor of success in media content, but this is doubly so during the Covid-19 crisis. This shift uncovers the opportunity to develop deeper relationships with consumers, which our panelists will discuss in detail & with specifics.”-Robbie Caploe, Publisher -Cynopsis

(Hook up a friend/colleague – you can share your login)


NBC Sports is launching a new multi-platform campaign #OneHomeTeam
, designed to “spotlight the ways the sports community, fans, athletes and commentators alike, are filling the void left by the pause on live sporting events.” By aggregating digital and social media content, as well as creating new content, NBC Sports will showcase everything from the at-home fitness routines of professional athletes to the amateur broadcaster calling a race in his or her backyard to an NBC Sports commentator’s own unique spin on the event of the day. “We miss live sports just as much as everyone else, but our hope with this platform is to keep people connected to the world of sports on a daily basis, inspiring at-home activities and staying connected to the athletes and broadcasters,” says Lyndsay Signor, VP, Consumer Engagement, NBC Sports. “Through the #OneHomeTeam initiative, we want fans to know we are in this together and will still cheer, laugh and be inspired by the athletes and sports we love.”

The NCAA is moving closer to allowing Division 1 athletes to earn money from endorsements and sponsorship deals, according to the AP, which states that recommendations to permit athletes to earn money for their names, images and likeness are being reviewed this week. A decision could be announced as soon as next week.


SportsGrid locked in a multi-year agreement with Sportradar to drive its real-time data, statistics and analytic solutions. The deal sees Sportradar provide tools, data products and machine learning technology to enable SportsGrid to deliver real-time in-game odds and digital analytics combined with statistical data and graphical visualizations.


Epic Games announced plans to hold a solo invitational for the conclusion of the Fortnite Championship Series next month, dangling a $2 million prize pool and play set to begin on May 9. Spanning three weekends, Epic will invite top players in each region as well as feature an Open Qualifier for Champion Ranked players,

Riot Games and Red Bull are teaming up for a new League of Legends esports gaming series. The Red Bull Power Spike launches this week in partnership with Battlefy with all members of the official League of Legends Discord channel in the US able to participate in daily 1-v-1 tournaments, with a series of unique prizes on the line.

A message from American Red Cross



Schedule at redcrossblood.org

On this Day
1961: The NFL officially recognizes the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton.

In the Know
How high off the court is the rim of a pro/collegiate level hoop? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city).

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question
In the history of the NFL Draft, two schools have featured players selected with the very first pick two years in a row. Most recently it was Oklahoma in 2018 & 19. Which was the other school? Answer: USC. Kudos: Aymon DeMauro-ADM Media & Marketing/NY; Michael Ritz-Lenox Advisors/NY; Sean Walker-OMG/NY; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Mike May-R2 Innovative Technologies/Wellington; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Joe Lyons-ESPN/Dallas; Rich Wolfe-Lone Wolfe Press/Scottsdale; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Credit Union/Burbank; Larry Hutchings/Nipomo; Tom Hurwitz-Palisades Media/LA

Cynopsis Team

Chris Pursell
Kerry Smith
Division President
Access Intelligence

Roberta Caploe

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Mike Farina

Albert Nassour

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Director of Operations

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FilmRise/Brooklyn NY:
directly support our Sales team while focusing on international platforms. 2-3 years of exp in a similar role. Previous experience with international digital content programming is req’d. Full info HERE (5/9)

FilmRise/Brooklyn NY:
Grow, nurture and maintain contact with key AVOD, SVOD, Broadcast, etc. platform marketing divisions on behalf of FilmRise and our programming partners and content providers/licensees. 2-3 yrs of exp in a similar role. Full info HERE (5/9)

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Seeking consultant specializing in advertising campaigns for TV tune-in. Hands-on media plan’g for TV tune-in, OTT and DTC. Full info HERE (5/8)

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Oversee all of INSP’s website and digital content initiatives, driving development of smart strategies to fuel increases in all key metrics. 5+yrs exp leading mngmnt of a website property. Full info HERE (5/6)

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