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NBA TV Fills the Gap With Specials, Movies

Sports network NBA TV will
rely on original specials and series, acquired
movies and vintage games to fill in for live
National Basketball Association games lost
to the four-month league lockout.

The 50 million-subscriber outlet was
scheduled to offer 96 live regular-season NBA
games in the 2011-12 campaign, mostly from
weekly live games on Tuesday, Saturday, Sunday
and Monday nights.

With no end in sight for the nearly 150-day
lockout, the network is looking for alternative
programming to fill in, Christina Miller, general
manager of NBA Digital, said.

“We will continue to keep the long-term
strategy in mind, which is to deliver a broad mix
of basketball-related programming,” she said.

The Turner Sports-run network has acquired
basketball-related movies, including
Hoosiers and The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh,
and the documentaries Magic & Bird: A
Courtship of Rivals
and The Wayman Tisdale
, to help fill the void left by the lockout,.

Last week, the network set the Nov. 22
start date for a six-part original series, Open
. The
weekly series
will feature
NBA players
and current
stories, pressure
and thoughts on other NBA stars while showcasing
their unique and unforgettable memories,
network officials said.

The network also will dip into the NBA video
library for more vintage NBA regular season
and playoff games.

Next week, NBA TV will start airing live
games from the NBA Development League,
Miller said. It is scheduled to air 30 D-League
games, with the option to add more contests
if warranted. There also will be extensive live
coverage of the January D-League Showcase
round-robin tournament, involving all 16
league teams.

Miller also is exploring the possible addition
of Euroleague games.

Nothing can fully replace the appeal of
NBA games, and the network is already taking
a ratings hit. Through Nov. 13, NBA total
viewers are down 78% compared to the November
2010 numbers, and down 85% among
18-49 year old viewers.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.