SBD/Issue 221/Sports Media

NBA '09-10 National TV Sked Unveiled, Coverage To Begin October 27

Griffin's Regular-Season Debut To Be Part
Of Doubleheader On TNT
The NBA and its TV partners yesterday announced the league's full regular-season schedule. The '09-10 season will begin October 27 on TNT with a doubleheader featuring Cavaliers-Celtics and Lakers-Clippers, marking No. 1 Draft pick Blake Griffin's first regular-season appearance. ESPN's coverage will begin October 28 with Hornets-Spurs opening a doubleheader, followed by Jazz-Nuggets. TNT will air 53 games total. ESPN will air 75 games, with an additional 15 on ABC. ESPN Radio will carry 26, and ESPN Deportes will televise 22. TNT's schedule features a maximum 10 appearances each by the Cavaliers, Nuggets and Magic. Highlights include doubleheaders on Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve, plus a Martin Luther King Jr. Day tripleheader. ABC's games include six appearances each by the Celtics and Lakers, while on ESPN, the Celtics, Cavs, Lakers, Suns, Trail Blazers and Spurs each have 10 appearances. ESPN and ABC will air a combined five Christmas Day games (THE DAILY).

CUTTING BACK: SPORTS MEDIA WATCH noted "unless there are major changes," ABC's 15 NBA telecasts will be its "fewest amount of NBA games" since it became the league's network TV partner before the '02-03 season. Fifteen is the "minimum amount of regular season games the network is contractually obligated to air," and the net will "only air games involving 8 teams next season." The "lack of NBA games on ABC is surprising, considering that NBA regular season ratings have increased for two consecutive seasons" (SPORTSMEDIAWATCH.com, 8/4). ESPN.com's Chris Sheridan noted with Rockets C Yao Ming and G Tracy McGrady injured and former F Ron Artest signing with the Lakers this offseason, the Rockets "now apparently have no national appeal at all," as the team will not appear on TNT, ESPN or ABC this season. The Nets, Kings, Bucks and Bobcats also have no nationally televised games, not counting broadcasts on NBA TV (ESPN.com, 8/4).

Magic Scheduled To Play Franchise-High
24 Games On National Television
GAINING EXPOSURE: In Atlanta, Sekou Smith notes the Hawks have "seven nationally televised games on their regular-season schedule this season," five more than the number during Hawks coach Mike Woodson's "first five years combined and equal to the amount the franchise has had the past 11 seasons." Woodson: "The first four years we were here, we couldn’t have bought our way onto the air. But since we’ve made the playoffs in each of the past two seasons you could sense things were turning around for us, and this is huge. This is a huge turnaround and one that I think goes right along with all the strides we’ve made as a team and franchise" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 8/5). In Orlando, Josh Robbins note the Magic will play a "franchise-record 24 games on national television during the upcoming season." Magic C Dwight Howard: "We've always wanted that kind of exposure, especially for our city. So now we've got it. It's going to be on us to go out there and perform to the best of our abilities" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 8/5). On Long Island, Alan Hahn notes the schedule includes the Knicks' "first appearance on the annual Christmas Day schedule of games since 2001," as the team will host the Heat in a 12:00pm ET game televised by ESPN. The Knicks will also play against the Hawks on New Year's Day in Atlanta and on Martin Luther King Jr. Day against the Pistons at MSG (NEWSDAY, 8/5).

STARS, WINNING IMPORTANT: In Oklahoma City, Berry Tramel writes if the NBA's TV partners believed Thunder F Kevin Durant "was the second coming" of Cavaliers F LeBron James, the Thunder "would not have just one measly national telecast this season." However, the NBA is a "star-driven league," as the Clippers have "eight national-TV games this season" to showcase Griffin (DAILY OKLAHOMAN, 8/5). In Sacramento, Jason Jones notes the Kings' sole national appearance will be on NBA TV on November 8 against the Warriors. Kings coach Paul Westphal: "If you start winning enough, they find a way to put you on. It's certainly not something I get worked up about" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 8/5).

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