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‘Fans Only’ Broadcast Set for Friday on NBA TV

Brandon Contes

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With endless forms of entertainment, networks have been innovative in competing for viewers’ attention. Following the success of Turner’s Players Only broadcast, NBA TV is taking it one step further with a Fans Only telecast Friday night for their coverage of Lakers vs. Timberwolves.

NBA TV will offer more than just the game on the screen, viewers will see instant polls, social conversation, statistics and graphics to assist with describing the action. There will be no constant play-by-play announcer or analyst to narrate.

Casey Stern will host the broadcast along with analysts Grant Hill and Brendan Haywood, but NBA TV will not have traditional announcers. Dennis Scott and Nate Robinson will also join the broadcast, engaging with fans in the arena.

“Everyone knows that it’s a challenge right now for TV networks to engage with the fans and find ways to keep their attention throughout these games,” said NBA TV Executive Producer John O’Connor.

The game is not enough to keep the modern fan’s attention for four quarters, so the NBA will test more graphics and ask fans to be on their phones communicating with the broadcast. The goal is to keep the fan from searching for other forms of entertainment by making the telecast busier and more interactive.

“I equate it to how fans are engaged on their phones during games; we are trying to bring that type of engagement to the TV screen,” said O’Connor.

The concept is similar to Facebook’s exclusive broadcast of Mets vs Phillies on Wednesday. In addition to the game, there were graphics and a constant scroll of fan interaction in an attempt to keep viewers engaged.  Facebook’s broadcast was, however, met with plenty of criticism. Many fans watching were unaware the social interaction feed could be muted, if they wanted to watch the game as a normal broadcast. A graphic explaining how to hide the fan comments was added and the announcers mentioned it during the broadcast.

The way fans watch a game is constantly modernizing, from the first down line in football, to the pitch count in baseball, more information is being added to the telecast. The Fans Only broadcast allows the NBA to hear how much is too much directly from its consumers as the game unfolds.

“To be perfectly honest, we’ve never done this, so we’re going to find out how well it works,” says O’Connor. “But one thing that is key is that we’re going to be transparent with what’s working and what’s not working. We are going to ask the fans that night, is it too many graphics or not enough? We want direct one-on-one communication with the fans, so they feel like they are engaged in the broadcast and know that we are listening to their feedback. We will absolutely talk about that on the air during the broadcast.”

Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here.

Sports TV News

ESPN Plans 20 Hours of College Football Playoff Selection Coverage

The College Football Playoff teams will be unveiled at 12:15 PM ET, with the rest of the New Year’s Six matchup being revealed at 2:30 PM.

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ESPN has more than 20 hours of studio coverage planned for the selection of the College Football Playoff.

The College Football Playoff teams will be unveiled at 12:15 PM ET, with the rest of the New Year’s Six matchup being revealed at 2:30 PM. Rece Davis, Kirk Herbstreit, Joey Galloway, Jesse Palmer, and David Pollack will be on the main set as the selections are revealed.

Several other personalities will join the show including analysts Greg McElroy, Robert Griffin III, and Dan Mullen, in addition to Paul Finebaum, Matt Barrie, and Chris Fowler.

ACC Network and SEC Network will also separately produce shows discussing the bowl selections.

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Sports TV News

Chris Fallica Leaving ESPN for FOX

Neither FOX or ESPN would comment on the situation, but in the Awful Announcing report it’s believed that there will be a send-off of some sort for Fallica on Saturday.

Jordan Bondurant

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A prominent sports betting voice featured on ESPN’s College GameDay will be heading to rival FOX and their Big Noon Kickoff show starting in 2023. According to Awful Announcing, Chris Fallica, affectionately known as “The Bear”, will make his last appearance on GameDay will be this weekend.

Fallica has been with ESPN since 1995. Since 2013, Fallica had been featured on GameDay making betting picks with his patented “Bear’s Board”.

Neither FOX or ESPN would comment on the situation, but in the Awful Announcing report it’s believed that there will be a send-off of some sort for Fallica on Saturday.

Fallica joins Tom Rinaldi as the second former GameDay voice to jump over to FOX and be featured on Big Noon Kickoff.

Both shows have experienced incredible viewership growth this season. For GameDay, there have been several weeks this season that have seen some of the largest audiences in the show’s history.

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Sports TV News

Tim Brando Believes Executives Look For Familiarity, Not Great Voices For Announcers

“Executives are going more for people they think they audience knows from having been in the studio. As opposed to man that’s a great voice, that guy really gets it, and his judgement is fantastic.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Tim Brando has seen the broadcasting industry has evolved in a lot of ways through the years, but one thing that’s remained constant is how infrequently some of the announcing gigs with major networks open up to younger voices.

That’s mainly because you have veteran talent already occupying those positions with no plans for the immediate future to step aside.

On a recent edition of The Sports Talkers Podcast, FOX Sports broadcaster and host Tim Brando spoke to Stephen Strom about the reality that many broadcasters face.

“Yeah there are a lot more jobs, but there are fewer great jobs,” Brando said. “A lot of guys are getting jobs, but it’s like a dead end.”

But in terms of hiring younger talent for network jobs, he thinks it’s become more about adding faces to broadcast booths rather than voices.

“There’s a tendency I think now in our business to hire more visible and perhaps more popular talent because they’ve been in the studio,” he said. “But they’re not ready to be in the booth. Not everybody can do both well.”

Tim added that there’s a nuance to calling play-by-play versus working studio coverage. Brando said that perhaps it has a lot more to do with young broadcasters bypassing getting their start in radio and going right into TV.

“It seems to me that in some circles anyway in our business, executives are going more for people they think they audience knows from having been in the studio,” he said. “As opposed to man that’s a great voice, that guy really gets it, and his judgement is fantastic.”

Brando did mention some of the younger voices at FOX who have risen to the bigger opportunities in the booth, and how they ultimately worked their way up. He said he’s had the chance to offer advice to a few of them and act as a mentor in a way, because that’s how it was for him breaking into the industry.

“I believe in pouring into the young broadcasters out there, I really do,” he said. “Because Curt Gowdy poured into me. I think there’s a responsibility and a level of accountability for the generation before to help those that are coming up that you really respect.”

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