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Adam Silver: NBA Needs to Ensure ‘Parameters’ with Player-Driven Media

“In all seriousness, there are guardrails.”

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Adam Silver

With the dawn of a new season for the National Basketball Association rapidly approaching, basketball fans will notice a variety of changes to the on-court product at tip off in just about one week. Whether it is the new transition-take foul rule, an in-game flopping penalty and alterations to the challenge system, the Association hopes to improve the standard of its game play and render a more enjoyable and equitable sport leading up to the NBA Finals.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and the league’s leadership team are constantly thinking about ways to keep the game relevant and embedded within sports culture. One of the new tenets that will affect the perception of the league is in its player participation policy, which has been instituted to prevent the deluge of “load management” that was taking place throughout the season. 

While it may analytically make sense to rest star players for certain games, doing so took away from the fan experience and left both in-person attendees and at-home viewers disappointed that they would not be able to watch these athletes suit up. The league made the decision just two seasons ahead of the expiration of its media rights contract, which is worth approximately $2.6 billion annually between The Walt Disney Company and Warner Bros. Discovery, and recognizes the importance of intriguing and captivating younger demographics.

“Everyone in the organization has to understand that this is a fan-first business,” Silver said in an interview with Stephen A. Smith on ESPN’s First Take, “[and] that particularly because of some of the media changes we talked about [in] that we’re moving [more] away from sort of a bundle environment where you just pay one price and you get everything to this notion of, ‘I’m only going to pay for what I want.’ It’s also a response to the marketplace; a realization that in order to keep our business going, we have to constantly be putting our best foot forward.”

A growing number of NBA players participate in external media endeavors throughout the season, much of which is in the form of players hosting their own podcasts. Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green has a hit show with The Volume, while Patrick Beverley works with Barstool Sports and Paul George partners with Wave Sports + Entertainment. Silver is encouraged by player interest in the media, and in turn, the appetite for fans to consume basketball content, but also knows his role as the commissioner is to protect the integrity of the league.

“In all seriousness, there are guardrails,” Silver said. “I think they recognize them, and once in a while, players will cross them in terms of language that’s appropriate [and] other societal places where I think they understand they’re part of a larger organization. I get the fact that some fans may be upset or they disagree with a players’ particular point of view – I’m completely accepting of that – I think there are other areas, again, more around respect and decency and things like that where, again, we’ve just got to make sure there’s parameters to players doing media themselves.”

Silver understands that players have varied interests that cannot always be displayed on the basketball court – such as fashion, food and lifestyle apparel, including watches. These athletes disseminate stories and their thoughts on these platforms, cognizant of the value in being able to attract an audience. Silver also observes the palpable impact these endeavors are having in creating companies and brands, along with building individual and familial wealth. Although basketball fans may be more of a concomitant audience, other listeners could be compelled to discover the NBA and its portfolio through player-driven media.

“The more people learn about them, I think the more likely they are then to want to tune in and see them play basketball,” Silver stated.

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Sports Media Reacts to Charles Barkley Retirement Announcement

“We’re looking forward to another fantastic NBA on TNT season and further discussion of our future plans with him.”

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Screengrab from Charles Barkley on Club Shay Shay
Screengrab: Club Shay Shay on YouTube

Charles Barkley said on NBA TV after Game 4 of the NBA Finals that he will retire from television after next season, no matter what happens with TNT and the league. Near the conclusion of the NBA TV postgame show, Barkley said:

“There’s been a lot of noise the last few months and I just want to say, I’ve talked to all of the other networks, but I ain’t going nowhere other than TNT, but I have made the decision myself, no matter what happens, next year is going to be my last year on television. And I just want to say thank you to my NBA family, you guys have been great to me, my heart is full with joy and gratitude.”

Barkley went on to say that he wants to turn the baton over to someone like Jamal Crawford or Vince Carter should Inside the NBA continue with Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal.

TNT put out a statement that said, “Charles is a Hall of Famer and broadcasting icon who is and will always be a beloved member of the TNT Sports family. We’re looking forward to another fantastic NBA on TNT season and further discussion of our future plans with him.”

Several in sports media took to social media to post about their thoughts on Barkley’s career with TNT or wondering if Barkley’s ‘retirement’ is real:

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Charles Barkley Announces He Will Retire From TV After Next Season

“Next year, I am just going to retire after 25 years, and I just wanted to say thank you and I wanted y’all to hear it from me first.”

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Screenbrad from NBA TV with Charles Barkley
Screengrab: NBA TV

Charles Barkley is not waiting. After voicing his frustration several times with the way the media rights negotiations have been handled by his current employer, Warner Bros. Discovery/TNT, Barkley is no longer waiting for them to make a decision, he has announced his own decision.

After Game 4 of the NBA Finals concluded between the Dallas Mavericks and the Boston Celtics, Barkley took time on the postgame show on NBA TV to announce no matter what happens, he will retire as an NBA commentator after next season, which will be his 25th with TNT.

“I’ve been thinking guys,” Barkley said “I want to say this, because you guys are my family. I really love TNT, all the people who work here, NBA Television. You guys have been great to me for 24 years and I just want to say thank you to my entire NBA family. I love you guys.

“There’s been a lot of noise the last few months and I just want to say, I’ve talked to all of the other networks, but I ain’t going nowhere other than TNT, but I have made the decision myself, no matter what happens, next year is going to be my last year on television. And I just want to say thank you to my NBA family, you guys have been great to me, my heart is full with joy and gratitude.

“But I am going to pass the baton at the end of next year. I hope the NBA stays with TNT, but for me personally, I wanted you guys to hear it from me, because I am not doing any more interviews, don’t y’all be calling me, nobody calling me, I am not talking about this again. But I wanted to tell my NBA TV and TNT family that I am not going to another network, but I am going to pass the baton to either Jamal Crawford, Vince Carter or you Steve [Smith]. Next year, I am just going to retire after 25 years, and I just wanted to say thank you and I wanted y’all to hear it from me first.”

The NBA’s current media rights agreements with Disney/ESPN and WBD/TNT expire after next season. Many reports have said the NBA will soon sign agreements with Disney, NBCUniversal and Amazon to be the league’s new broadcasting partners beginning with the 2025-26 season. The Wall Street Journal has reported the total value of the new media rights packages is expected to be $76 billion over 11 years.

Rumors of a possible fourth media package being made in order for the NBA to keep its 40-year relationship with Turner Sports going have surfaced, but it looks like either way there will be changes coming to Inside the NBA, the award-winning show Barkley is a part of along with Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal.

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FOX Sports Moving UFL Games to Friday Nights in 2025

“The regular season average television audience of 816,000 was more than 30% higher than the pace from the previous year.”

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The United Football League logo

FOX Sports CEO Eric Shanks recently confirmed a report from Deadline last month that said United Football League games would move to Friday nights in 2025. The Deadline report had said FOX planned to replace WWE Smackdown with sports coverage from college football and basketball as well as games from the UFL.

Shanks’ comments were made during a Zoom with reporters about the news of their new agreement with the NTT IndyCar Series. SI’s Mike Mitchell reported that the UFL worked with FOX to move the games so they could complete their auto racing deal.

Shanks said many of FOX’s UFL games would be moved to Friday night when asked about the change but did not provide more detail.

The UFL was split between FOX and ABC/ESPN this season. The regular season average television audience of 816,000 was more than 30% higher than the pace from the previous year and the recent conference championship games were up 57% over the averages from the USFL and XFL last season. According to Mitchell, the league saw a large increase in the 18-49 demographic on FOX compared to USFL programming in 2023.

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