SBJ/March 20 - 26, 2006/This Weeks News

Turner to roll out NBA playoff spots

Turner Sports will break its NBA playoff advertising campaign with eight new spots directed by Spike Lee. The centerpiece of the 30-second commercials, which will debut the week of March 27, will be the San Antonio Spurs, with Tim Duncan and Robert Horry appearing in four of the commercials, along with entertainer Ali G, who Turner used in its NBA season-opening spots.

Director Spike Lee (right) talks with Robert Horry and
entertainer Ali G while filming the playoff advertising
campaign, which will run on TNT and TBS.
Former Spurs player and current TNT NBA analyst Steve Kerr will appear in two ads with Ali G, while TNT’s other analysts — Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Reggie Miller — will be featured in two other promos that will air across all Turner broadcast platforms.

Turner again will use the “40 Games in 40 Nights” and “Win Or Go Home” tag lines in the campaign, just as they did for last year’s playoffs. Lee helped write the network’s playoff ads last year.

Turner is spotlighting the reigning NBA champion Spurs because the network has the rights to the NBA Western Conference Finals this year, with ESPN airing the Eastern Conference Finals. Terms of the NBA’s deal with Turner and ESPN call for both cable networks to alternate conference finals coverage every season under the six-year deal that ends after the 2008-09 season. Turner’s contract also gives it the exclusive broadcast rights during the conference semifinals, eliminating any local broadcast competition.

While the campaign will run on TNT and TBS, additional details of where the ads will run were unavailable. In addition to the television ads, Turner is expected to promote the NBA playoffs through other off-channel efforts, though network officials would not disclose specifics. Last year, Turner bought local radio and print media during the playoff season in select NBA playoff markets.

“We’re still finalizing our plans, but it will be the heaviest [NBA playoff] promotion we have ever done,” said Jeff Gregor, senior vice president of programming for Turner Sports.

Turner is hoping the campaign will improve on last year’s overall 3.0 playoff rating from 44 playoff broadcasts, which was down from a 3.4 rating from the previous year’s 43-game playoff broadcast schedule.

This regular season, the NBA on TNT is generating a 1.3 average rating over 42 games compared to a 1.2 year-to-date rating for the same number of games last season.

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