The NBA tips off its regular season this week, with TNT, ESPN and NBA TV lining up a buffet of programming around the regular season. On TNT’s side of the equation, the network will tip off play with Autotrader Premiere Week featuring a pair of blockbuster NBA on TNT doubleheaders on Tuesday and Thursday beginning with the Pelicans/Raptors at 8p, followed by the Lakers/Clippers at 10:30p.
However, Turner will also see some benchmarks with the new season, including the 30th anniversary of Inside the NBA as well as the 30th anniversary for network stalwart Ernie Johnson at Turner Sports. Inside the NBA Presented by Kia this season will open from LA on Tuesday and feature the studio team of Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson with an expanded pregame show starting at 5:30p. Cynopsis Sports asked Craig Barry, Chief Content Officer at Turner Sports about the new season and the company’s milestones.
Barry on the new season: This is going to be a special season for us. It’s the 30th year of Inside the NBA and we have some fun and exciting plans in place to help celebrate the show and some of its top moments through the years. We’ve hired Stan Van Gundy, expanded the roles of Candace Parker, Ian Eagle and Steve Nash, and we’ll be taking a new approach to our Tuesday night coverage on TNT throughout the season. We’re also increasing the number of touch points for fans to consume our NBA content and engage with our personalities across social media platforms for the upcoming season.
On the legacy of Inside the NBA: We’re humbled by the attention the show has received and could not be more appreciative of the continued fan support. That show’s success comes down to the chemistry that exists between Ernie, Charles, Shaq and Kenny. It’s something that can’t be taught and we try and create an environment that leverages their strengths and helps set them up for success. It’s important to also extend our appreciation to all the talented people – past and present – who have contributed to the show’s success. Without them, it would not be what it is today.
On Ernie Johnson: First of all, and I realize this is not an original take, but there is not a finer person in the industry than Ernie. He’s the consummate professional and an even greater human being. He’s the glue that has kept everything together. He’s meticulously prepared and able to get the most compelling perspectives out of Charles, Shaq and Kenny. Let’s just say, when he first started, we used a fair amount of prompter copy. Today, there is very little. That format has encouraged more free-flowing conversation and there is no one better at facilitating it than EJ.
On opening the season: Inside the NBA will be on the road in L.A. and San Francisco for Opening Week. For Opening Night, we’ll have the NBA on TNT American Express Road Show from L.A. Live with the Inside team doing a 2.5 hour pre-game show on location, along with halftime of our first game and post-game coverage. There will also be a performance from Halsey and a number of other elements including an Inside the NBA 30th Anniversary Experience. And we’ll have a unique, volumetric capture demonstration provided by AT&T 5G. Later in the week, Inside the NBA will be on location for the unveil of the new Chase Center in San Francisco as well.
FIFA revealed results of a comprehensive audit of the final audience data for the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019, announcing that a combined 1.12 billion viewers tuned into official broadcast coverage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 across all platforms to score a record audience for the competition. Linear TV accounted for the majority of the global audience, with 993.5 million viewers watching at least one minute of coverage on a TV set at home, an increase of 30% on the audience for the 2015 edition held in Canada, which reached 764.0 million. An estimated 481.5 million people accessed coverage of France 2019 on digital platforms, for 43% of the total audience reach. Publicis Sport & Entertainment compiled the consolidated audience figures for the event.
Major League Baseball announced FOX’s broadcast schedule for the 2019 World Series, set to begin tomorrow at Houston’s Minute Maid Park and is presented by YouTube TV as the Astros take on the Nationals at 8p on FOX, followed by a Wednesday night matchup also at 8p on the network. Subsequent games, including potential games, will run Oct. 25, 26, 27, 29 and 30.
Speaking of which, FOX Sports saw the Astros’ series-clinching win over the Yankees average 7,472,000 viewers on FS1 to rank as the most-watch program on the network since 2017 and fourth0largest audience ever. That number is up 28% over last year’s NLCS game the network covered, led by Houston’s 23.9/46 according to Nielsen. Overall, the game delivered 7,928,000 across all of the FOX Sports platforms carrying the contest.
Meanwhile, the NFL reports that last week’s Thursday Night Football game featuring the Chiefs’ and Broncos was seen by an average audience of 14.4 million across all platforms, including FOX, NFL Network, FOX Deportes, NFL digital, FOX Sports digital, Amazon Prime Video, Twitch and Yahoo Sports. The 14.4 million viewers for the matchup was up 52% across all platforms versus last year’s Week 7 Thursday Night Football matchup between the Broncos and Cardinals. Season-to-date, the Thursday Night Football tri-cast is averaging 16.3 million viewers – up 21% versus the comparable point last season.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the 2020 NFL Draft, held in Las Vegas, will once again be carried on ABC, ESPN and the NFL Network. More details expected soon.
Outback Bowl President/CEO Jim McVay announced an agreement to extend long-term broadcast partner ESPN’s contract for an additional six years through the January 2026 game. As part of the new arrangement, the Outback Bowl will continue to be played in the coveted New Year’s Day line-up. The January 2020 game will be televised on ESPN.
Tomorrow on ESPN sees E:60 return to primetime at 9p with co-hosts Jeremy Schaap and Lisa Salters. The hourlong show kicks off its 12th season with a brand-new look and features by Mina Kimes and Jen Lada. Lada sits down with South Carolina quarterback Ryan Hilinski in “Hilinski’s Hope.” Hilinski, who helped the Gamecocks defeat No. 3-ranked Georgia last weekend, explains how the loss of his brother Tyler impacted his life both on and off the field. Lada examines how Tyler’s story can help others who are battling mental illness.
RIP to original ESPN commentator Lou Palmer, who died Friday at the age of 83. Palmer was hired by ESPN in 1978, a year before the network officially was launched and served as an original anchor and reporter for the network’s flagship SportsCenter program. “Lou Palmer was a wonderful radio and television professional, and an even finer gentleman,” said former colleague Chris Berman, per ESPN. “He was one of the few employees here at ESPN before we went on the air. His love for baseball jumped through the screen and became and early hallmark of SportsCenter. Those of us where were young anchors — Bob Ley, Tom Mees and I — will forever be indebted to Lou for his guidance by example.”