Turner Sports is bringing on its biggest star to help drop the puck on TNT’s NHL coverage. NBA analyst Charles Barkley is joining their Wednesday night telecast of NHL games to debut the sport on TNT.
Barkley is famous for his antics and analysis on TNT’s Inside the NBA, and Turner wants some of that same feel for their brand new hockey studio team.
The analyst is a big NHL fan and is joining voices like studio host Liam McHugh “The Great One” Wayne Gretzky, 10-year NHL veteran Anson Carter, three-time Stanley Cup Champion Rick Tocchet, along with hockey personality and former NHL veteran Paul Bissonnette.
Barkley has plenty of influence at Turner, and he helped seal the deal with Gretzky.
“Charles Barkley is a good friend, and he called me every single day and said, ‘This will be fun for you,’” Gretzky told Sportsnet 590 in Toronto this past July, “and ultimately I decided, OK, this is something I’ve got to try, and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s going to be exciting.”
Don’t expect Gretzky to get as zany as Barkley does during the NBA season. “The Great One” just wants to be himself in the new TNT hockey studio.
“I love everything about our game, and I told everyone at Turner and Charles, ‘Look, I’m not a controversial guy. I’m not going to be that guy that’s going to be so negative on players. I’m the exact opposite, so if you’re looking for that guy, I’m not the right guy.’
“People have said to me … ‘what are you going to do, what are you going to be like?’ I’m going to be Wayne Gretzky. I’m going to be forthright. I feel like I know the game, I feel like I respect the game, and I’m just really excited about being part of it again.”
TNT airs its first NHL game tonight when the New York Rangers visit the Washington Capitals.
Russ Heltman is a daily news writer for BSM. He is the morning host and producer for 89.3 WMKV in Cincinnati, OH. He also works in gameday communications for FC Cincinnati and additionally contributes to the AllBengals blog for Sports Illustrated. Russ can be found on Twitter @RussHeltman11 or you can reach him by email at Heltmandm@yahoo.com.
ABC Scores Most Watched NBA Saturday Primetime Game In 4 Years
“The game drew 3.7 million viewers.”
The Boston Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night. While the game’s controversial finish left LeBron James and Patrick Beverly upset, executives at the Walt Disney Company had nothing but smiles thanks to the performance of ABC.
The game drew 3.7 million viewers. That means the Celtics’ win is the most-watched game in the ABC Saturday night prime-time window in the last four years. A February 2019 game between the Lakers and Golden State Warriors drew 4.1 million.
Boston also delivered the highest-rated game of the NBA season so far outside of the league’s stacked Christmas Day slate.
NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC is experiencing a nice uptick in viewership this season. Through the weekend, the Saturday night games are averaging over 3.4 million viewers according to an ESPN press release.
That number represents a 16% jump from last season. The edition of NBA Countdown that airs before the Saturday night game is having a good season as well. It’s average audience is up 3% to just under 1.5 million.
NHL Ratings on ESPN, TNT Down in 2nd Year
So far this season, games on ESPN and TNT are averaging 373,000 viewers, which is down from 478,000 last season.
Viewership totals from ESPN and TNT show NHL ratings have declined heading into the All-Star break, but there are some extenuating circumstances for the nearly 22% drop.
So far this season, games on ESPN and TNT are averaging 373,000 viewers, which is down from 478,000 last season. However, both channels have increased their linear television schedule, doubling from 27 games to 54.
ESPN has aired 18 games with an average of 402,000 viewers. In the same time period last year, the worldwide leader had only aired seven contests, but garnered 622,000 per game. None of ESPN’s games last season had aired on weekends, while the network has broadcast six games on Sunday this year alone. The 12 games ESPN has aired that weren’t on Sunday have averaged 491,000 viewers.
The 2023 NHL All-Star Game will air on ABC Saturday, and the network is hoping for a lift from last season. In 2022, ratings fell 38% from the previous All-Star Game on NBC, and hit the lowest total since 2009. The NHL Skills challenge saw its largest audience in a decade after airing on ESPN in primetime on a Friday evening. Nearly 1.1 million watched the skills challenge, a 30% increase compared to 2020.
At this time last season, TNT had aired 20 games. Through 36 games this season, the network has seen an average of 359,000 viewers. The network is helped by the 2023 Winter Classic, which took place at Fenway Park on Monday, January 2nd. The afternoon contest saw an audience of 1.78 million, up 31% compared to the previous year.
AFC Championship Game Delivers New Viewership High For CBS
53.1 million viewers tuned in to see the Chiefs victory over the Bengals, making it the most-watched television program since Super Bowl LVI.
The AFC Championship Game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals drew a massive audience for CBS.
53.1 million viewers tuned in to see the Chiefs’ controversial victory over the Bengals, making it the most-watched television program since Super Bowl LVI. Additionally, the event is the most-watched NFL Conference Championship Game since 2017.
CBS claims the game peaked with 59.3 million viewers and was also the most-streamed live sporting event in the history of Paramount+.
With an audience of 53.1 million, CBS concludes its NFL playoff coverage averaging 40.798 million viewers for each game. That leads all networks thus far. The 2022 NFL season was the most-watched regular season on CBS in the past seven seasons.