With Official NBA Schedule Unveiled, Mobile Vendors and Networks Ready To Get Back to Work
The official 66-game NBA schedule was finally released on Tuesday night, along with the bulk of the league’s television schedule on ESPN and ABC, TNT, NBA TV, and RSNs across the country. Although the league and NBA Players Association agreed to the basic terms of a collective-bargaining agreement more than a week ago, mobile-production vendors were in a holding pattern until official dates were announced. Now these vendors have shifted into scramble mode in an effort to cover the NBA’s condensed schedule of 990 games in just 124 days.
“We have trucks all over the place, and we can typically move trucks around,” says Mobile TV Group Phil Garvin of his nearly 30-truck fleet. “But, when we can’t get a truck [for an NBA game], we will do a lot of subbing, making us a very good client to our competitors. That is just something that we all are going to have to deal with.”
Under the condensed format, many teams will face a handful of brutal stretches, with every team playing games on three consecutive nights at least once and 11 teams doing that twice. But the players won’t be the only ones tested. Mobile-production companies will have to get creative to provide trucks for NBA dates that had been booked for alternative events during the lockout.
“Clients may not get the same truck back-to-back, but we’ll get the games covered,” says Alliance Production GM Craig Farrell. “It’s a good thing that they’re going to try to put as many games as they can in the schedule, because that means more work.”
The National Scene
The league did its best to maximize national TV games in order to fulfill its rights obligations while dealing with arena availability at venues that had already booked alternative events during the lockout. In all, 231 regular-season games will appear on the national TV schedule, including 15 on ABC, 75 on ESPN, 45 on TNT, and 96 on NBA TV.
It all tips off on Christmas Day with a total of six games, as ABC, ESPN, and TNT each feature a doubleheader. Following the six-part Christmas tipoff, there will be games every day until the regular season concludes on April 26, including the night of the NCAA men’s basketball championship on April 2, which has traditionally been an off night for the league.
Turner Sports and All-Star 2012
Fortunately for the league, rightsholders, fans, and vendors alike, the jewel of the NBA calendar, NBA All-Star Weekend, will take place as scheduled Feb. 24-26 in Orlando. All the festivities will air on TNT, including NBA All-Star Friday and Saturday, as well as the All-Star Game itself on Sunday.
TNT will offer 44 games in primetime, with 32 being part of the network’s Thursday-night doubleheaders. The network also will air more than 40 NBA playoff games, including exclusive coverage of the conference semifinals and the Western Conference Finals.
“We look forward to another highly anticipated NBA season getting under way on TNT with a fantastic matchup on Christmas Day and two great doubleheaders during opening week,” says David Levy, president of sales, distribution and sports, Turner Broadcasting System. “With a schedule featuring marquee doubleheaders and multiple appearances by some of the league’s most prominent teams, combined with our roster of talented and experienced announcers and analysts, TNT will once again be a weekly destination for fans, players and coaches during the NBA regular season.”
ESPN and ABC
ESPN will produce a total of 90 games — 15 on ABC, 75 on ESPN — all in HD. both networks apply flexible scheduling, allowing for the best possible matchups.
ABC kicks things off with Dallas Mavericks at Miami Heat at 2:30 p.m. ET on Christmas Day, followed by Chicago Bulls at L.A. Lakers at 5 p.m. ESPN takes over for an 8 p.m. meeting between host Oklahoma City Thunder and visiting Orlando Magic. In the nightcap, the Golden State Warriors host the L.A. Clippers. ESPN Deportes will also televise the primetime doubleheader.
NBA TV and NBA League Pass
NBA TV will offer 96 live regular-season games, including 33 doubleheaders (NBA TV primarily takes the RSN feed for these games and does not produce them in-house). For the fourth consecutive year, the network will feature Fan Night on Tuesdays, beginning Jan. 3, allowing fans to vote on NBA.com for games they want to see televised nationally on NBA TV.
The network will tip off its coverage on Dec. 26, with a doubleheader: Houston Rockets at Magic (7 p.m. ET) followed by the Lakers at Sacramento Kings (10 p.m.).
“We are excited to tip off the 2011-12 NBA season on NBA TV on Dec. 26,” says Christina Miller, SVP/GM, NBA Digital. “With our talented and energetic studio team coupled with our full schedule of games, informative original programming, and our extensive cross-platform offerings, we have everything fans need to not miss a minute of the season.”
In addition, NBA League Pass will offer to 40 out-of-market games per week. NBA League Pass is available on DIRECTV, DISH Network, and most digital cable and telephone providers and is also available for fans to access on NBA.com and selected mobile devices.