TNT Eyes NBA All-Star Weekend Delivery

With its latest promotion, TNT wants to deliver more viewers to its coverage of the NBA All-Star Weekend.

The "drama" network, which has scored double-digit gains in households and demographics thus far with the 2007-08 pro basketball season, is working with 162 pizzerias in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and Boston to deliver TNT NBA All-Star branded pizza boxes to tout its presence in New Orleans from Feb. 15-17.

Through the campaign, which tipped off Jan. 21 and extends through Valentine’s Day, TNT plans to disseminate 360,000 pizza boxes emblazoned with its and the All-Star game logos and images of four top players slated to perform in the contest, scheduled at 8:30 p.m. on Feb. 17: Kevin Garnett of the Boston Celtics; Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns; Lebron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers; and Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers.

A TNT spokeswoman said the proprietors at the participating pizzerias were instructed to dole out the promotional boxes intermittently over the life of the campaign. But she noted there was a big drop on Super Bowl Sunday and the network was hoping for a bonus of sorts tied to some of the habits of collegians: “They sometimes don’t get around to taking out the trash. The message could be there for a while,” she said.

Over its first 31 games -- excluding its Thursday night Feb. 7 doubleheader -- TNT averaged 1.19 million households, up 12% from 1.07 million through the same stage of last season, according to Nielsen Media Research data.

Double-digit advances have also been registered against adults 18 to 34 (up 20% to 446,000 of those viewers); adults 18 to 49 (ahead 19% to 791,000); adults 25 to 54 (22% to 732,000); men 18 to 34 (26% to 346,000); men 18 to 49 (21% to 580,000); and men 25 to 54 (22% to 529,000).

“As long-time partners with the NBA we believe strongly in their product and are always pleased when more fans make ‘TNT NBA Thursdays’ appointment viewing,” said David Levy, president, Turner Sports and Turner Broadcasting Sales, Inc. in a statement. “We look forward to bringing a great deal of attention to the 2008 NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans as we showcase the NBA’s brightest stars on its biggest stage.”

The network’s coverage of the All-Star festivities begins Feb 15 at 9 p.m. (ET) with the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge and Youth Jam. Inside the NBA follows.

The show sets the stage the next day at 5 p.m., leading into the NBA’s Greatest Slam Dunk Contest: Airborne at 7 p.m. Tipping an hour later will be live coverage of the NBA All-Star Saturday Night Presented by State Farm, comprising the Haier Shooting Stars competition, the Playstation Skills Challenge, the Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout and the Sprite Slam Dunk event. At 11 p.m., the network will unveil the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2008.

Following NBA Tip-OffPresented by at 8 p.m. on Feb. 17, TNT will cap its weekend coverage with the All-Star game itself at 8:30 p.m.