SBD/February 15, 2013/Media

TNT's "Inside The NBA" Continues To Thrive Largely Because Of On-Air Personalities

TNT's four days of All-Star Game coverage concludes with the game itself Sunday night
TNT's "Inside The NBA" studio show broadcasted live from Houston Thursday night in advance of NBA All-Star Weekend, and the HOUSTON CHRONICLE's David Barron reports for co-hosts Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O'Neal, "keeping things real has been very profitable" both for them and TNT. Smith said, "Our first and foremost goal is that you have to listen. A lot of times when I see other sport shows, everyone makes their point, but nobody talks about the point that the other guys are making." He added, "My concerted effort has always been to listen so I can react and have my own point, not just saying, 'You talk for 15 seconds, you talk for 15, and you get 16.'" Barron writes the real "spark plug" to the show is Barkley, whose "inherent gift for the sublime and ridiculous made the show a pop-culture phenomenon." Turner Sports VP & Exec Producer Tim Kiely said, "The show gets better the later it goes, because Chuck starts to lose his mind, and he gets better when he gets tired because he gets goofier." Smith's "freedom of expression attracted" Barkley to the show after he retired in '00, and the "free flow of conversation between them, in turn, attracted O'Neal" after former panelist Magic Johnson went to ESPN. O'Neal, who recently talked to THE DAILY about his post-NBA career, said, "It has all the elements I want to see. I'm a sports guy, but I don't want to see serious stats and mumbo jumbo all the time. Especially for 2013, it's a good mixture" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 2/15). SI's Jack McCallum writes there is "one tangible reason that the Charles Show has worked for the last 12 years." The show has a "wonderful supporting cast," but the "best answer is that it works simply because it works" (SI, 2/18 issue).

INFORMATION OVERLOAD: USA TODAY's Reid Cherner wrote NBA TV and TNT have "no worries about filling up four days of TV coverage" until the ASG tips off Sunday at 8:00pm ET. Last year's "All-Star Saturday Night" was the "third-most watched in the 27-year history of TNT's coverage," and that "builds up into interest for the actual All-Star Game on Sunday night." Johnson said that the skills challenges on Saturday night are the "lynchpin of TNT's coverage." He said, "Something always happens on that night that you never think will happen." Cherner noted that "keeps the host on his toes." Johnson: "I don't think you plan too much. It is the unscripted moments that you don't put in the run-down that make the day. That is the beauty of our show" (USATODAY.com, 2/12). In Atlanta, Chris Vivlamore notes this is TNT's 28th straight year of covering ASG festivities, and the net's coverage "has come a long way over nearly three decades." TNT will use 42 cameras and 16 mobile units "to deliver the sights and sounds." Turner Sports Senior VP/Production and Exec Creative Dir Craig Barry noted that the figure is "up from four mobile units 20 years ago." TNT also will incorporate "six Super Slow Motion cameras, six robotic cameras and one helicopter in its productions" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 2/15).

GLOBAL APPEAL: TV coverage for the ASG will reach fans in 215 different countries and territories and 47 languages on TV, computers, mobile devices and tablets. More than 312 int'l media members from 46 countries and territories also will be in Houston (NBA). 
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