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SBD/Issue 172/Sports Media
TNT, ESPN Both Seeing Double-Digit Aud Increases For NBA Playoffs
Published May 27, 2009
|Nuggets-Lakers Series Helping ESPN Record
Viewership Gains For Playoffs
HOOP DREAMS: In DC, Tim Lemke writes the NBA Playoffs thus far "have provided the league and its broadcasters with precisely what they root for: long series filled with tense, competitive games." The ratings "appear to validate Turner, which signed an eight-year extension of its broadcast deal in 2007 that included a takeover of the league's cable and digital operations." Turner President of Sales, Distribution & Sports David Levy: "When I travel around the country people are talking about the NBA and these games. ... The games have been terrific. If you're a sports fan, you're tuning in." ESPN Senior Dir of Programming & Acquisitions Doug White added, "What you've been seeing with these playoffs is really the best form of reality television. It's unscripted, you don't know what you're going to get from night to night, and it has all of the drama and suspense you could ever hope for" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 5/27).
IN THE BOOTH: Syndicated columnist Norm Chad wrote ESPN/ABC announcers Mike Breen, Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy are "as enjoyable of a three-man booth as I have heard in a long, long time," as they "combine sensible play-by-play with smart conversation and minimal shtick." Breen understands that a good game is a "crescendo and reserves his most emotive calls for the biggest moments." Jackson speaks in "no-nonsense language, with a clipped, succinct rhythm," and Van Gundy is "frank, refreshing and unassuming, with a sneaky sense of humor" (Mult., 5/25). But in Denver, Dusty Saunders wrote, "My major question regarding the ESPN-ABC telecasts of the NBA playoffs: Why is Mike Breen part of the broadcast coverage?" Three announcers is "one too many, particularly when telecasts feature outspoken broadcasters like Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson, who mix play-by-play with ongoing, strong commentary." Breen "too often gets caught in a verbal no-man's land." Meanwhile, TNT announcers Marv Albert and Doug Collins are a "smooth, veteran twosome who are in sync most of the time" (DENVER POST, 5/25). ESPN.com's Bill Simmons wrote the "difference in quality" for TNT studio analyst Charles Barkley before and after his December DUI arrest "has been jarring." Simmons: "In a good way. He even looks lively during TNT's integrated commercial spots when he's trying to seem excited about 'X-Men'" (ESPN.com, 5/22).
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