SBD/October 29, 2013/NBA Season Preview

Kings Celebrate Latest Chapter In Their History With Commercial-Free Broadcast

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It is believed the Kings' commercial-free broadcast is the first of its kind
The NBA Kings to celebrate a new chapter in franchise history will be broadcasting tomorrow night’s home opener against the Nuggets commercial-free on their local broadcast partner, KXTV-ABC. The team, which was subject to a battle that could have seen it relocate to Seattle, ultimately was purchased by former Warriors investor Vivek Ranadive this summer. Kings Senior VP/Sales & Marketing Jeff David said, “There’s a large story to tell and we need to use every minute to tell that very positive story.” KXTV President & GM Maria Barrs said the station took into account the loss of ad revenue, but ultimately decided it would be worth the risk. “The Sacramento market has had so many ups and downs with the Kings," she said, "and we’re on a real up and we want to help celebrate it.” Health care provider Kaiser Permanente will be the presenting sponsor of opening night, and will be included in all of the promotional messages about the commercial-free broadcast. The sponsorship was sold by KXTV, but the station declined to provide details. KXTV is running ads on air and on its website to promote the telecast, while the Kings had in-arena promotions, website ads and mentions during all of their preseason broadcasts. Barrs: “We’re hoping to get people excited about the Sacramento Kings. That’s what we want. We have a partnership with the Kings where we’re going to be airing an additional 10 games after the first one, and we want people to watch, we want people to be excited, we want people to feel good and feel engaged with the team.” Kings President Chris Granger echoed that sentiment, saying, “If not for our fans, this team would not be in Sacramento right now. This is hopefully just a nice thank you for all that work that our fans have put in and we want to give back to them in as many ways as we can.”

VARIETY SHOW: The broadcast will produced by the Kings and essentially include three hours of commercial-free game action, as well as an additional hour-long pregame show produced by KXTV. In place of ad spots, the Kings will be airing a mix of in-arena entertainment, pre-recorded vignettes on community outreach and the new ownership, live interviews with NBA figures such as minority Owner Shaquille O’Neal, Commissioner David Stern and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, and highlights from the pregame fanfest. Granger said, “It’s a sold-out game. Not everyone is going to be able to attend the game live, so being able to view the entire experience from home is as good as we can get.” Kings Opening Night Broadcast Dir Mike Bird said there has been an “immeasurable” amount of planning that has gone into the telecast. His team will have 17 cameras on hand, up from the usual 10 for a regular-season home game, including wireless RF cameras and an Ultra-Mo camera. “We’re actively involved right now with the in-house entertainment people to come up with a solid format to give the fans at home watching the full experience they would get at the arena,” he said. 

SOMETHING DIFFERENT: The Kings are the first professional sports team in North America to broadcast commercial-free, and SI’s Richard Deitsch said, “It’s an interesting experiment and I think as a one-time thing, I think viewers are really going to enjoy it because it’s going to be a different kind of unique game broadcast.” But he added it will be “interesting to see how the fluidity of the broadcast goes and the rhythm of the broadcast.” Deitsch did not think that a single-sponsored commercial-free telecast would become the norm in the NBA, but Kings and KXTV execs all seemed open to the possibility of doing this again. Granger said, “It’s fun to do something different. Our fans are responding very well to it right now. I think it’s pushed us creatively to think through every single timeout and what we might do, so I think you’re going to see the best out of the Kings organization and News10 that night.”
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