NBA TV will receive a major on-air facelift as it looks to score additional distribution and ratings heading into the new basketball season, which launches this week.
The 15 million-subscriber network — which Turner Sports operates on a day-to-day basis — will feature a new, multimillion-dollar graphics package and in-studio enhancements to complement its four-night-a-week live game coverage.
“This is really about Turner bringing all the resources they have to bear on NBA TV. You'll see a lot of new faces and you'll see them on a brand new, 5,000-square-foot, multimillion-dollar set that has a dedicated dot-com desk, a studio desk, an actual basketball court for demonstrations, and a one-on-one interview area,” said Bryan Perez, senior vice president and general manger of NBA Digital.
In addition, NBA TV will create themed-programming nights in an effort to develop greater appointment viewing among NBA Fans, according to Perez.
NBA TV is dubbing Tuesday nights “fan night,” in which fans will be able to vote via NBA.com for the live game that will air each week. On Wednesdays, the network will feature original content created by NBA Entertainment. TNT NBA host Ernie Johnson will host the night in one of several on-air talent synergies the NBA TV and TNT will share throughout the season.
“We produce more original programming on the NBA than anyone else, so we made Wednesday night our first-run night to package that content up and put it together to give it to the fans on a consistent basis,” Perez said.
Thursdays will feature vintage programming celebrating the history of the game.
“We might do a retrospective on the Celtics championships with some 'Hardwood Classics' games and vintage interviews with some of the legendary Celtics players,” he said. “It's all about delving into NBA history.”
Perez also said the network could offer several other theme nights as the season progresses. “We wanted to start with these three and really start to give some consistency to the consumer and then branch out to other nights,” he said.
On the distribution side, Perez said the network is continuing to talk to operators about increasing carriage of the service, which is mostly positioned on sports tiers.
Also in discussion is operator carriage of the network's HD simulcast channel, which is currently distributed by DirecTV and Dish Network.
While Turner handles programming and marketing efforts for the league's digital assets, including NBA TV, NBA.com and the “NBA League Pass” out-of-market live game package, Perez said the NBA is handling carriage negotiations with operators for NBA TV and League Pass — both of which will see many of their current carriage deals expire at year's end.