After posting record ratings throughout the lockout-shortened NBA season, NBA TV took a major leap in the postseason, producing playoff telecasts in-house for the first time ever. Now, with the NBA Finals well under way, NBA Digital has made NBA TV the home of the hardcore fan with more than 40 hours of live coverage and an abundance of content produced by NBA Entertainment on not only the network but also NBA.com and NBA Mobile.
“Our goal is to be the place fans turn for the most comprehensive coverage of the Finals across any platform that you can choose to consume the content,” says the recently promoted Scooter Vertino, who is now VP/executive producer of content for NBA Digital. “We like to say internally that we are a network for fans run by the fans.”
Riding the Momentum
NBA TV produced five games during the first round of the Playoffs. And, although its shoulder programming during the Finals is a very different situation, NBA TV is looking to ride the momentum it gained during those inaugural postseason productions.
“We love the game production, and it’s something we strived for for a long time,” says Vertino. “This was the best time to make that leap. It was great to get out there and to put our stamp on the broadcast. We got a number of games, and I think each production got better and better. So we’re very excited about it. As far as carrying some of that momentum, it is a different animal to deal with, but the same fundamentals hold true with regard to accuracy and documenting all the stories on and off the court.”
The Finals From All Sides
NBA TV’s nightly studio show, NBA GameTime, is airing live on-site throughout the Finals, providing pre- and post-game coverage. Host Matt Winer is joined by a rotating stable of NBA TV and TNT analysts: Greg Anthony, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, Kenny Smith, and Chris Webber.
“We once again have a deep line of commentators on-site in Oklahoma City and Miami,” says Vertino. “This includes a formula that we think [works] very well, where we integrate TNT’s NBA analysts along with our own NBA TV folks.”
NBA Entertainment Does Its Part
In addition to live shoulder programming, NBA Entertainment is producing two 30-minute episodes of Sounds of the Finals, an original series hosted by Ahmad Rashad and offering fans a cinematic look at the action on the court and in the locker room. The first 30-minute episode will cover games one through four and air on Monday June 16; the second (if necessary, depending on the length of the series) will wrap up the series and air on a later date.
NBA Entertainment delivered a slam dunk on Wednesday night, when its critically acclaimed documentary The Dream Team premiered to an NBA TV-record audience of 847,000 total viewers. Narrated by Ed Burns and featuring interviews with several original Dream Team members, the 90-minute documentary celebrates the 20th anniversary of USA Basketball’s iconic Gold Medal team with never-before-seen footage.
“NBA Entertainment has done an incredible job producing the film, and we’re looking forward to presenting it on our network,” Vertino said before it aired. “It’s truly an honor. It’s a fantastic, fantastic documentary.”
NBA Entertainment is also producing five-minute “micro-movies” after each game for NBA.com, providing all-access looks at the Finals through the lenses of NBA Entertainment’s cameras.
Taking Fans Even Deeper
In addition to the NBA Entertainment micro-movies, NBA.com is streaming all postgame press conferences live, as well as providing game breakdowns, video highlights, stats, and editorial coverage.
On the social-media side, NBA.com’s Finals Pulse allow users to track conversations, vote, and share content in real time, as well as track popular trending topics and access videos, photos, new stories, and blog posts. Meanwhile, NBA.com’s Social Spotlight showcases the best tweets, photos, and videos from players, fans, and NBA.com writers via a mosaic that flips every few seconds to highlight the conversation.
Fans can also vote at NBA.com or by text for the Player of the Game, beginning at halftime for each game. Once the votes are tallied, the winner is announced on-air and online.
The NBA GameTime mobile app provides live scoring, game alerts, video on demand, radio feeds, a redesigned app dashboard, and full bracket view. For tablet users, the NBA GameTime Courtside app provides live scoring, an NBA dashboard view, video on demand, and full bracket view.