TNT Drives to the Net

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Can’t get enough of Charles Barkley on Turner Network Television’s Thursday-night pro basketball doubleheaders? Look no further than NBA.com.

The former “round mound of rebound” and other members of TNT’s on-air National Basketball Association team will appear on the network’s new broadband-video service, tipping Nov. 17 on the league’s dedicated site, according to Turner Sports president David Levy. In an effort to extend its NBA presence brand beyond its Thursday-night telecasts, TNT talent will develop original feature programming, cover breaking league news and provide perspective on league issues and stories via TNT Broadband on NBA.com.

“Turner understands that broadband will be a big part of everyone’s future in combination with the television, and that the brand will resonate between both platforms,” Levy said. “With the broadband channel, we’re able to extend our [NBA on TNT] brand from a one-night to a seven-night basis.”

All of the network’s talent, including former NBA players Magic Johnson, Reggie Miller and Steve Kerr, play-by-play man Marv Albert, and Inside the NBA studio hosts Barkley, Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson will develop segments for the channel.

“The key differentiator between the NBA on Turner and everyone else is really the talent pool on the air and within our studio show, but that’s only one night a week,” he said. “Through the broadband channel, we give our announcers a platform that allows us to share the insights of our talent, as well as to stay current.”

Some of the segments planned for the channel include “NBA Planet,” which will profile the lives and appeal of foreign-born players like Yao Ming within their native lands. Other segments featured on the Thursday telecasts, including network-exclusive player interviews, will also migrate to the streaming-video service.

“We only use about three minutes of a 20-to-25-minute interview on the air, so there’s a lot of opportunity to use that,” Levy said. “We’ll also use the best of our Inside the NBA studio show as well.”

Levy also noted that the service will help the network promote its 52 live NBA regular-season telecasts during the 2005-06 campaign, beginning Nov. 1 with a Denver Nuggets-San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns-Dallas Mavericks doubleheader.

The network hopes to reverse a slight decline: After posting increases during the first two years of its six-year, $2.2 billion NBA deal, TNT saw its average fall off to a 1.3 household mark last season, from a 1.4 in 2003-04.

Levy also said the network’s streaming-video approach could also extend to its other sporting events, including its pro golf coverage and NASCAR events.

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