Chemistry, Charisma Spell Success For TNT's "Inside the NBA" Studio Show
TNT's NBA telecasts and the net's "Inside the NBA" studio show have "proven a sweet spot" for Turner, according to Sean Highkin of USA TODAY. TNT's NBA games have "averaged the highest viewership among cable NBA telecasts for 11 consecutive seasons." "Inside the NBA" during the playoffs "regularly draws higher ratings among key male demographics" than NBC's "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" and "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon." The show's talent "has plenty of fun and everyone is careful to not tamper with the chemistry." None of the panelists outside of host Ernie Johnson "attend production meetings, a decision everyone acknowledges is vital to the organic dialogue of the show." Johnson said, "We don’t want them there because as long as the producer and I know what we’ve got, that’s all we need." Analyst Shaquille O'Neal said, "Our concept is, if we’re going to keep you up this late, we might as well entertain you. We can talk about basketball, but nobody’s going to stay up and see us just talk about who’s going to win or lose." Analyst Charles Barkley takes on the role of "the show's lightning rod." Johnson said of Barkley, "When Charles got here, he changed our show dramatically." He added of Barkley's impact on other networks, "Everybody felt like, ‘We have to bring someone in to be our Charles Barkley.’ But it doesn’t work that way. Charles had that equity built in, of all those years as a player being the most quotable guy in the league. He almost had that diplomatic immunity." Barkley: "The hardcore basketball fans are going to watch no matter what. But we want other people to watch our show" (USA TODAY, 12/24).