NBA Tip-off 2016: Inside the NBA Hits the Road as Part of New ‘NBA on TNT Roadshow’
Turner Sports is a throwing a party, and it may be coming to a major NBA city near you.
On Tuesday, Turner will kick off its 33rd season (the first in a new eight-year agreement with the league) of NBA on TNT in style, with the debut of the “NBA on TNT Roadshow,” a massive activation in which it will take the Inside the NBA pre/postgame show onsite and surround it with an avalanche of other experiences, including a musical performance by rapper Wiz Khalifa.
In Cleveland, it will take place in a whopping, 75,000-sq.-ft. interactive space outside the Quicken Loans Arena on Tuesday, a night that just got a whole lot bigger with the Indians slated to host Game 1 of the World Series nearby.
The NBA on TNT Roadshow will open to spectators beginning at 3 p.m. ET. The Inside the NBA studio team of Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, and Shaquille O’Neal will broadcast live on TNT beginning at 6 p.m. and provide two hours of pregame coverage.
“I humbly feel that our studio show is the best out there,” says Craig Barry, EVP, production/chief content officer, Turner Sports. And he’s clearly not alone: This week, the Inside the NBA team was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame.
“It has always been the differentiator,” Barry says. “The game is the game, and the games are obviously incredibly important. They create great narratives and all the fodder for these guys to talk about, but I will tell you that great television comes from chemistry in front of and behind the camera. It’s really that simple.”
Taking the Inside the NBA set on the road is, of course, nothing new. Turner Sports has been doing that for years. However, this is a significant extension of facilities, efforts, and branding with Inside the NBA-driven shoulder programming just a piece of a much bigger puzzle that will include musical performances, interactive experiences (including a full-size basketball court), pop-up stores with unique NBA on TNT merchandise, food trucks, and more.
Barry believes that fans truly care for and connect with the NBA on TNT brand, specifically Inside the NBA programming and talent, and he expects that they will be excited to experience it in person and be a part of the festivities.
“Content is king, but user experience is, if not equal, almost equal as the media landscape evolves,” he explains. “So whether it’s user experience from social, mobile, digital, or an actual event like this, it’s still creating that user experience around our brand.”
NBA on TNT tips off with a doubleheader on Tuesday: the New York Knicks visiting the Cavs at 8 p.m. ET followed by the Golden State Warriors at the San Antonio Spurs at 10:30 p.m.
Though acknowledging that there isn’t much groundbreaking in Turner’s NBA-game coverage this year, Barry stresses that the effort is always made to get the viewer more inside the action.
“The vision is access, access, access,” he says. “The closer that we can get to the fan, the court, the player, and the game, the better we are doing our job. This doesn’t come with gimmicks. It comes from a comprehensive production-resource setup. When we talk about new stuff, we are typically talking about adding cameras, improving the quality of cameras, putting cameras in places like on the backboards and in the locker rooms, better microphones, more players miked, more access to the coaches and the players. I’m more interested in putting the efforts back into deep, original coverage.”