ESPN Inks Multi-Year Deal With The Basketball Tournament
ESPN and The Basketball Tournament (TBT) have reached a new, multi-year, multi-platform rights extension. TBT is the single-elimination tournament featuring top professional, college alumni, and international basketball players competing for a winner-take-all, one million-dollar prize, with each game concluding with an Elam Ending. ESPN has presented TBT games annually since the event’s inception in 2014.
“TBT is one of the most unique and competitive events on our schedule with former college and NBA players playing everyday athletes for a big prize,” said Burke Magnus, ESPN Executive Vice President, Programming and Scheduling. “The excitement surrounding TBT continues to grow, particularly among younger viewers on ESPN, and we are proud to continue our association with TBT while offering even more exposure of this summer’s event with fans yearning for the return of live sports.”
Due to the extenuating circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s event will be unique – a 24-team quarantined tournament held at a single location – Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Competition will take place over 10 days, July 4-14 with all 23 games available on an ESPN network.
The 2020 TBT will be also fanless with teams and staff arriving five days prior to competition for multiple rounds of COVID-19 testing. Once underway, a single positive test by a team member would result in the removal of the entire team.
“Being the first basketball event to play in the U.S. since mid-March is a monumental task that is only possible with great partners,” said TBT founder and CEO Jon Mugar. “We can’t thank the State of Ohio, Columbus Sports Commission or The Ohio State University enough for helping guide us. We also wouldn’t be here without ESPN, Puma, and Zelle. Everyone is unified in wanting to see athletes out there having fun again, and our players can’t wait to compete.”
TBT’s exposure on ESPN has grown every year since the event was founded in 2014. In 2019, a record 48 hours of TBT aired on ESPN networks with a combined audience of more than five million viewers and more than 600,000 people watching Carmen’s Crew (Ohio State Alumni) defeat the Golden Eagles Alumni (Marquette Alumni) in the most-watched Elam Ending in TBT history.
The highly-competitive tournament has attracted some of the best basketball players currently playing around the world. In 2019, 60 recent NBA players competed, and 23 teams were composed of alumni from Division I programs including Syracuse, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Kansas, UCLA, Dayton, Kentucky, Clemson, Memphis, Marquette, Arkansas, and St. Mary’s.
TBT’s application period featured record demand in 2020, with over 120 teams applying, including several notable NBA players. Seven-time All-Star Joe Johnson will be competing with four-time champion Overseas Elite. Again this year, all games will feature the Elam Ending, the end of game format made famous during the 2020 NBA All-Star Game, which eliminates the game clock after a certain point and features teams playing to a Target Score.
The 24-team field, bracket, and game schedule with television designations will be announced in the coming days.