ABC's Coverage of the NBA, known as NBA Sunday on ABC since 2007, is a weekly presentation of National Basketball Association games on the American Broadcasting Company television network in the United States, replacing the NBA on NBC. NBA Sunday typically airs on afternoons at 1:00 p.m. or 3:30 p.m. ET. During the NBA Finals, ABC presents games in prime time, mostly at 9:00 p.m. ET. Since its return to ABC in 2002, the show has been produced by sister network ESPN, and since 2006 has transferred all of its operations to ESPN, when ABC Sports became ESPN on ABC. Since then, it has been an ESPN program, and only has been identified as ABC's coverage of the NBA on ESPN. The program is sponsored by Hertz. This is the second time NBA games have aired on ABC; from 1962 to 1973, ABC was the main carrier of the NBA.
It was announced on June 27, 2007 that the NBA on ABC had been renewed through the 2015–2016 season.
In late 2001, the National Basketball Association
was in the midst of putting together a new television deal. At the time, conventional wisdom was that NBC would renew its deal with the NBA and continue airing games. An article by the Sports Business Daily
circa October 5
, cited Richard Sandomir of the New York Times
[it would be] difficult to imagine the NBA being so overwhelmed by an ESPN offer that it would let [ESPN] team up for a broadcast deal with ABC that would yield fewer games, promotion and exposure.
The negotiations were closely watched by those in the business world, as it was the first time a league crafted a television deal in the new economic environment since 9/11. Declining television ratings on NBC had already led many to believe that the NBA's next television rights fee would be lower than previous years, and the economic recession made that a likely scenario. As predicted, NBC's offer to the league was lower than the previous agreement's amount. Had the NBA agreed to the network's offer, it would have been the first sports league to undergo a decline in rights fees. The NBA rejected NBC's offer and after the network's exclusive negotiating period with the league expired, ABC and ESPN stepped in. On January 22, 2002, the NBA signed a six-year deal with the Walt Disney Company and (then) AOL Time Warner, which resulted in ABC, ESPN, and TNT acquiring the rights to air league games. ABC and ESPN will reportedly pay an average of about $400 million a season. Technically, ESPN pays the NBA for its broadcast rights and "buys" time on ABC to air select games. In all, the contract allowed the NBA to increase its rights fees by 25 percent.
On the deal, NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol had this to say:
The definition of winning has become distorted. If winning the rights to a property brings with it hundreds of millions of dollars in losses, what have you won? When faced with the prospect of heavy financial losses, we have consistently walked away and have done so again.... We wish the NBA all the best. We have really enjoyed working with them for more than a decade to build the NBA brand.
In its first five years of covering the NBA, ABC has had three lead play-by-play announcers, six lead announcing teams, an anticipated six theme songs, five graphics packages, five pregame shows, six sets of studio teams, and the lowest Nielsen ratings the NBA has ever seen. Each season, ABC begins their NBA coverage with a Christmas Day doubleheader (with the exception of 2004 and 2006, when they broadcast only one game). For three years (2004–2006) ABC insisted on having a Christmas Day game between the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers. Following this, Sunday afternoon coverage begins in mid-January or early February. The number of Sunday afternoon regular season games that ABC normally covers is significantly lower than its predecessor NBC. In its first season of coverage, ABC aired 14 regular season games, in comparison to NBC's yearly average of 33 games. That number increased to 18 games in the next two seasons, and 20 games in the 2005-2006 season. For 2006-07, ABC decreased the number of games it aired, offering 19. When asked by Jim Rome in 2002 about the number of games on ABC, NBA commissioner David Stern made this comment:
Cable and satellite (programming is) increasingly available to everybody who wants it. On ABC, you're going to see us on as many or more Sundays during the regular season as NBC is now, but fewer triple-headers and double-headers, and frankly, we think that the triple-headers and double-headers, which we favored in the past, don't work. It's too hard to get people to sit through six and eight-and-a-half hours of NBA on (TV), and it's good to be on cable during the week because that's where our fans are looking for our games
By contrast to Stern's assessment, the media and many fans found that the cable-heavy TV deal made many games unavailable and, in addition, devalued the league. Starting with the second round of the playoffs, TNT's NBA coverage becomes exclusive, meaning that no local broadcasts can compete. Because of this, fans of teams in the playoffs without cable are unable to watch many playoff games unless they have satellite TV. Also, ABC's coverage is always exclusive, including in the regular season. If a game is on the air opposite an ABC televised game, it cannot be televised locally. This results in some games not being aired on television at all. The Sports Business Daily quoted Houston Chronicle writer Jonathan Feigen as saying:
[the NBA] seemed to marginalize the product, treating their sport as small and their playoffs as no more important than one of 162 Atlanta Braves games.
In addition, unlike NBC or NBC's predecessor CBS, ABC doesn't televise the NBA All-Star Game (instead, going to TNT). Also unlike the other networks, ABC rarely televises either of the NBA's Conference Finals series. Each year, TNT will air one Conference Final exclusively (the Western Conference Finals in 2003, 2004, and 2006, and the Eastern Conference Finals in 2005 and 2007), while ESPN will get the other. With the exception of 2004 (where they aired no Conference Final games at all), ABC airs only two of ESPN's Conference Final telecasts (Games 1 and 3 in 2003, Games 1 and 4 in 2005, and Game 4 in 2006) each year. The network was scheduled to air Game 7 of the 2006 Eastern Conference Finals but did not because the Miami Heat won the series in six games.
Outside of the Conference Finals, ABC generally airs playoff games throughout the first five weeks of the NBA Playoffs, in addition to a number of special primetime playoff games, usually televised on Thursday or Saturday nights. In 2005, ABC aired the first non-cable Memorial Day game in three years, when the Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs battled in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals. Prior to the most recent NBA TV deal, Memorial Day playoff games had become a yearly tradition on network TV.
Unlike previous broadcast partners, ABC has never aired a non-Christmas regular season game after 3:30 p.m. ET. While NBC had several 5:30 p.m. start times for games, ABC has only gone beyond that time on Christmas, and for select playoff games. On March 20, 2005, ABC aired a pair of games regionally (San Antonio Spurs-Detroit Pistons and Phoenix Suns-Memphis Grizzlies) at 3:30 p.m. When the Spurs-Pistons game ended, the network did not switch the audience to the Suns-Grizzlies game (which was 94-91 late in the fourth quarter). Instead, viewers were sent to their local news. NBC rarely committed this practice, instead sending viewers of the completed game to view the end of the one still in progress.
In its first year of coverage, ABC used the exact same graphics as partner ESPN; only the "score bug" was different. This habit had already been put into practice by the network in regards to their NHL and college basketball coverage. However, ABC did have their own graphics (though similar to ESPN's at the time) for college football and other sports. For the 2003-2004 season, ABC established new graphics for the NBA, in an effort to differentiate their telecasts from ESPN's. On February 5, 2006, ABC established an all-new graphics package, including a Monday Night Football-esque bottomline scoreboard for the NBA. Also that day, ABC periodically placed a "Countdown to Super Bowl XL" graphic at the top of the screen (on March 5, 2006, ABC also inserted a "Countdown to the Oscars" graphic).
ESPN, and by proxy ABC, began using the graphics from Monday Night Football on games starting in 2006. To distinguish ABC's NBA telecast from ESPN's, the 3-D ABC logo is added near the score bug, but on international markets where ABC-featured NBA games are telecast live, the ABC logo is not present.
One common complaint about NBA coverage on ABC is of strange camera angles, including the Floorcam and Skycam angles used by ABC throughout its coverage. Other complaints are of camera angles that appear too far away, colors that seem faded and dull, and the quieting of crowd noise so that announcers can be heard clearly (by contrast to NBC, which allowed crowd noise to sometimes drown out their announcers).
Some complaints have concerned the promotion, or perceived lack thereof, of NBA telecasts. The 2003 NBA Finals received very little fanfare on ABC or corporate partner ESPN; while subsequent Finals were promoted more on both networks, NBA related advertisements on ABC were still down significantly from promotions on NBC. NBA promos took up 3 minutes and 55 seconds of airtime on ABC during the week of May 23, 2004 according to the Sports Business Daily, comparable to 2 minutes and 45 seconds for the Indianapolis 500. Promotions for the Indianapolis 500 outnumbered promotions for the NBA Finals fourteen-to-nine from the hours of 9:00 pm to 11:00 pm during that week.
A common complaint of the network's coverage of the 2007 NBA Finals was the amount of time ABC's Desperate Housewives actress Eva Longoria (whose husband is Spurs guard Tony Parker) was on camera, causing some to feel that the network was more concerned about getting reaction shots of her than showing the games. This was also a common complaint of the 2004 NBA Finals between the Detroit Pistons and Los Angeles Lakers, when they would continuously cut to long-time Lakers fan Jack Nicholson. There is also criticism of cross-promoting summer movies and other products during the series.
They were also criticized for focusing coverage on a select few teams, particularly the decision to schedule the Lakers against the Heat on Christmas Day for three straight years. However, for 2007, ABC has decided to break this tradition by instead having the Heat, for the fourth straight time, appear on Christmas Day facing the 2007 Eastern Conference Champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers.
ABC has changed the name its pregame show five times in five seasons, and has rotated several analysts in each season. For the 2006-2007 season
, the pregame show is known as NBA Sunday Countdown
. Each season, the show has been sponsored by GMC
, with exception of the Finals, where it is sponsored by Chevrolet
. Mike Tirico
hosted the pregame show from ABC's first season
with the NBA to the middle of the network's fourth
with the league. On March 19
, Tirico was replaced by ESPN
's Dan Patrick
, as Tirico was moved to the number two play-by-play team. On Christmas Day
2007, Stuart Scott became the new studio host, replacing Patrick, who left the network. Other hosts of the pregame show include former regular substitute John Saunders
After getting NBA rights, ABC courted two main announcers from the NBA on NBC
, Bob Costas
and Marv Albert
. After Costas, (who was reportedly offered a generous deal which also included Major League Baseball
play-by-play for ESPN and ABC News
features) elected to remain with NBC, and Albert signed a six year deal with TNT
, the network went with veteran broadcaster Brad Nessler
to be the lead NBA play-by-play
man. Nessler, who prior to that point had not been the main voice for any professional sport on television, received a call from Marv Albert's agent, soon after getting the job. On the call, the Internet Movie Database
quoted him as saying:
''I need to know everybody and you can't know everybody and Marv knows everyone.... So, I'm just gonna use him as a valuable resource, if it's all right with him.
Nessler was joined by Bill Walton in a two-man booth. The team did two broadcasts together before ABC decided that Walton needed a partner (much like he had at NBC with Steve Jones) and assigned pregame analyst Tom Tolbert to join the team. Nessler, Walton, and Tolbert broadcast most regular season games, and every network playoff game. Other games were broadcast by the team of Brent Musburger and Sean Elliott. After the worst ratings in NBA Finals history, low ratings overall, and harsh criticism, ABC decided to retool the team.
After disastrous ratings in the 2003 NBA Finals
, ABC decided to completely revamp their lead NBA broadcast team. Brad Nessler
was demoted to the second broadcast team, where he was joined by Sean Elliott
and Dan Majerle
. Tom Tolbert
was relegated to pregame show duties only, and Bill Walton
was removed from ABC's NBA coverage altogether (he remained with ESPN
). Meanwhile, longtime Monday Night Football
commentator (and unofficial "Voice of ABC Sports") Al Michaels
was hired to replace Nessler as lead broadcaster of the NBA.
For the first several weeks of the 2003-2004 season, Michaels had no partner. However, Doc Rivers, a critically acclaimed analyst when he worked with Turner Sports, became available after a 1-19 start by his Orlando Magic. Rivers was hired weeks before ABC's Christmas Day season opener. He and Michaels worked that game together, one of only six they did together during the regular season (all other games Rivers worked were with Brad Nessler). During the playoffs, the team worked every single telecast, including the 2004 NBA Finals, which saw great improvement in television ratings.
During the 2004 NBA Playoffs, Doc Rivers was hired by the Boston Celtics. Though Rivers continued to work games with Al Michaels throughout the rest of the playoffs, ABC would have to find a new lead analyst for the 2004-2005 season. In addition, the network dropped Brad Nessler from all NBA coverage, and did not retain Sean Elliott or Dan Majerle.
Early in the 2004-2005 season
, ABC found a new partner for Al Michaels. Memphis Grizzlies
coach Hubie Brown
, a broadcasting legend with CBS
, and TNT
, was forced into retirement due to health reasons and was soon after hired to replace Doc Rivers. Michaels and Brown began their partnership on Christmas Day 2004
, working the highly anticipated Shaquille O'Neal
game. After that game, the two did not do a game together again until March 2005
. Michaels became sporadic in NBA coverage, doing two games in early March, and then three more games in April. Brown worked every week of ABC's coverage, broadcasting some games with veteran broadcaster Mike Breen
In addition to Hubie Brown, ABC added other known analysts to its NBA coverage. Jim Durham and Dr. Jack Ramsay both worked several games during the regular season, while Brent Musburger, John Saunders, Len Elmore, and Mark Jackson were involved with others. Mike Breen and Dr. Jack Ramsay were the first secondary broadcast team to work a playoff game for ABC. Breen called three playoff games for the network in 2005, the most notable being Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals with Hubie Brown.
Al Michaels was criticised by the New York Post for not broadcasting the game and seeming disinterested with the NBA in general. Another criticism that Michaels received was that he too often found himself in tediously long-winded explanations. In return, he would be talking over two or three possessions in a row (which Michaels seemed to be better suited for football and baseball broadcasts, for which he's better known for). The end result was that he would hardly have time to comment on the action viewers were seeing because he was so hung up on a prior subplot or storyline that he felt the audience just had to know about.
Michaels, who had only broadcast a combined twelve regular season games with ABC (with all but one of those games airing from either Los Angeles, where he resides when not sportscasting, or Sacramento), did return for the NBA Finals, which scored its second lowest rating of all time (despite the fact that it was the first Finals in eleven years to go to a seventh game).
For the 2005-2006 season
, Al Michaels and Hubie Brown were slated to remain as ABC's number one broadcast team. The duo worked that year's Christmas Day game between the Los Angeles Lakers
and Miami Heat
and were expected to work the NBA Finals together as well. However, that plan did not come to fruition. After Michaels left ABC to cover Sunday Night Football
, he was replaced by Mike Breen
, who became the lead broadcaster for an over-the-air NBA package for the first time in his career. Breen worked the 2006 Eastern Conference Finals and 2006 NBA Finals
with Hubie Brown
for both ESPN and ABC, as well as all the main games ABC broadcast that year. The promotion of Breen gave ABC its first consistent lead broadcaster since Brad Nessler
, as Breen worked games every week. Previously, Breen has worked the Eastern Conference Finals for NBC in 2001 and 2002, as well as the Western Conference Finals for ESPN in 2005.
Many sports writers and sports television analysts praised Breen, some for his explosive voice and excited calls on game-deciding and game-winning shots and others for the fact that, unlike his predecessor Al Michaels, he was already very familiar with broadcasting basketball games and was essentially a basketball lifer. Despite that, he faced some criticism from those who complained that they would prefer a more established voice, such as Marv Albert or Kevin Harlan. Hubie Brown faced criticism from writers (most notably Richard Sandomir of the New York Times) as well as bloggers and viewers.
For the secondary broadcast team, ABC reunited Bill Walton and Steve Jones for game coverage. Walton and Jones worked the Christmas Day 2005 broadcast between the San Antonio Spurs and Detroit Pistons for ABC, the first game they called together since Game 4 of the 2002 NBA Finals for NBC (NBC's last NBA telecast to date). The pair worked their first broadcast with Mike Breen, and worked the remainder of the season with Brent Musburger, Jim Durham, and Mike Tirico. That team, along with the Breen-Brown duo, now often does games on ESPN's Wednesday or Friday coverage, which the previous ABC announce teams rarely did.
During 2006, ABC also used several SportsCenter reporters, including Tom Rinaldi, Rachel Nichols and Jeremy Schaap, for pregame and halftime features.
The Michaels era
Al Michaels called a total of 37 games for the NBA on ABC
, his last being the Christmas Day game in 2005. Michaels finished his NBA on ABC
career with a grand total of thirteen broadcast regular season games, and only two outside of California
. From March 7
to April 17
, including playoff games, each game Michaels called involved either the Lakers
(a total of 21 consecutive games).
For the 2006-07 NBA season
, ABC's sports operations were fully integrated into ESPN and as a result, Mark Jackson
replaced Hubie Brown
as ABC's lead analyst (Brown would still pair with Mike Breen
number one team and Mike Tirico
on ABC's number two team). ABC's pregame show, which Jackson was a part of, will air from the site of the main game each week (much like ABC's first season in 2003
Additionally, Michele Tafoya returned as a sideline reporter, after sitting out the 2005-06 season on maternity leave.
On July 9
, it was announced by Dan Patrick
that he would be leaving ESPN after 18 years with the network. Stuart Scott
hosts ABC's pregame show for the 2007-08 season
along with analysts Bill Walton
and Michael Wilbon
. Jeff Van Gundy also joined Mike Breen and Mark Jackson full-time, starting Christmas Day. After Walton had back problems in February, Jon Barry
replaced him for the rest of the season.
List of broadcasters
- Jon Barry (studio analyst 2007-present)
- Mike Breen (lead play-by-play 2006-present; alternate play-by-play 2004-2006)
- Hubie Brown (lead game analyst 2004–2006, secondary analyst 2006-present)
- Mark Jackson (game analyst, 2005-present; studio analyst 2006-2007; lead analyst 2007-)
- Ahmad Rashad (host of Access Ahmad halftime feature, 2002-present)
- Lisa Salters (sideline reporter, 2005-present)
- Stuart Scott (studio host 2007-present; sideline reporter, 2003-2007)
- Michele Tafoya (sideline reporter, 2002-present)
- Mike Tirico (play-by-play 2006-present; studio host, 2002-2006)
- Jeff Van Gundy (lead analyst, 2007-present)
- Bill Walton (game analyst, 2002-2003, 2005-2006; studio analyst, 2002-2005, 2007-present)
- Michael Wilbon (studio analyst, 2006-present)
- Mark Jones (alternate play-by-play 2006-present)
- David Aldridge (sideline reporter, 2002-2003)
- Jim Durham (play-by-play, 2005-2006)
- Sean Elliott (game analyst, 2002-2004)
- Len Elmore (alternate game analyst 2004-2006)
- Mark Jones (sideline reporter, 2005-2007)
- Steve Jones (studio analyst, 2004-2005; game analyst, 2005-2006)
- George Karl (studio analyst, 2003-2004)
- Tim Legler (game analyst, 2006)
- Dan Majerle (game analyst, 2003-2004)
- Sal Masekela (sideline reporter, 2002-2003)
- Al Michaels (play-by-play, 2003-2005)
- Brent Musburger (play-by-play, 2002-2006)
- Brad Nessler (play-by-play, 2002-2004)
- Dan Patrick (studio host, 2006-2007)
- Scottie Pippen (studio analyst, 2005-2006)
- Jack Ramsay (game analyst, 2005)
- Doc Rivers (game analyst, 2003-2004)
- John Saunders (play-by-play, 2005-2006; substitute studio host from 2003-2005)
- Byron Scott (studio analyst, 2004)
- Tom Tolbert (game analyst, 2002-2003; studio analyst, 2002-2004)
's ratings for the NBA Playoffs
have been lower than NBC's
ratings. In its last year televising the NBA, 2002, NBC experienced a growth in playoff ratings, leading to the highest rated Western Conference Final
in league history, and a 14.2 rating for Game 7 of that series, which featured the Los Angeles Lakers
and Sacramento Kings
. ABC's highest rating overall was a 13.8 with a 23 share which came in Game 5 of the 2004 NBA Finals, lower than the 14.2 registered by the Lakers-Kings series. While other sports are also experiencing low ratings (for example, baseball
, which has seen the last two World Series
register record-low ratings), the NBA has joined the ratings-challenged NHL
as the only two out of the four major sports to have their championship ratings dip below a 10.0. Regular season ratings fell to 2.2 in 2005
and then again in 2006
; that rating is less than half of what NBC averaged in the 1999 lockout-shortened regular season
. The 2007 Finals, a series featuring the San Antonio Spurs
and Cleveland Cavaliers
, was the lowest rated Finals in league history, with a 6.2 rating and 11 share. This is perhaps attributed to the small-market representation and the four game series, in which San Antonio easily defeated Cleveland. Ratings have rebounded somewhat in 2008, with the Lakers-Nuggets Game 1 drawing a 3.5 rating, the highest rating since 2003
After the 1990s (when the NBA arguably reached its highest point in terms of popularity) many hardcore
and casual fans began to associate the league with NBC
, and more accurately, the network's theme music, Roundball Rock
. Whereas NBC used Roundball Rock
for all twelve years of its coverage, ABC has used at least nine themes in its first four years. Three of the themes were traditional sports themes, while six of them (We Got Hoops
by Robert Randolph and the Family Band
, Can't Get Enough
by Justin Timberlake
, Let's Get It Started
by the Black Eyed Peas
, Lose My Breath
by Destiny's Child
, This Is How A Heart Breaks
by Rob Thomas
and Runnin' Down a Dream
by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
) were contemporary pieces by known artists.
For the 2006-07 NBA season, ESPN began using "Fast Break", ABC's NBA theme since 2004, as its theme. Because of the move to ESPN on ABC (which calls for all sporting events on ABC to have the same production elements as games on ESPN), this means that games on ABC will have the same theme music from previous years.
In addition, ABC selected all female pop group The Pussycat Dolls to perform "Right Now" as the new introduction for NBA games. This met with strong criticism from NBA fans, calling the music "wimpy", as opposed to TNT's using rap group Fort Minor's "Remember the Name", which has received acclaim from fans. ABC also used this music to promote the third season of Desperate Housewives. This came only months after NBC used female rock musician Pink to perform the open for Sunday Night Football.
For the 2008 season, "Nine Lives" by Def Leppard and Tim McGraw was used as ABC's new introductory song on their games. During the playoffs, ESPN also used the song prior to the start of the game.
According to a study by Simmons research, which involved a survey of an indeterminate number of American adults, the primary audience for the NBA Finals
on ABC is primarily male, with a fairly even distribution of people aged 25-44 (approximately 20 percent of 25-34, 35-44 and 45-54 year old people surveyed said they watched the games). The statistics showed that 64.3 percent of the audience were white
and 23.7 percent were African American
. A combined 20.5 percent of those polled with income from $100,000 to $249,999 said they watched games, and Democrats
watching outnumbered Republicans
49% to 34%. This research likely corresponds to the 2005 NBA Finals
, as it was published in fall of that year
For the 2005 NBA Finals, the Nielsen local people meter found sharp increases in the percentage of those watching the NBA on ABC when isolating the African American audience. In Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., the percentage of African Americans watching the NBA Finals was larger than that of the entire population by 15 to 30 percentage points. In San Francisco, the disparity was largest; the percentage of African Americans was 56%, while the general population percentage was 27%. Most notably, "More than half of all African Americans adults in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco watched at least part of the NBA Finals. This was about twice as high as the overall viewing by the total population in those two markets." Nielsen's local people meter also found that "In every LPM market, the ratings for the NBA Finals were twice as high for Men as for Women.
The 2006 NBA Finals scored ratings of 20.4, 22.3, 20.6, 21.9, 23.8 and 24.6 among African Americans. African Americans accounted for 30 percent of ABC's audience for Game 6 of the series. Among Hispanics, the numbers for Games 3-5 were 6.0, 7.6, and 8.2, and nationally, the ratings were 8.0, 7.8 and 9.0.
In its first three years of coverage, ABC televised 40 playoff games, whereas NBC
aired 35 in 2002
alone. The San Antonio Spurs
have appeared on ABC thirty-six times, the most of any other team. The Charlotte Bobcats
and Los Angeles Clippers
have not appeared on ABC during the length of the current contract, whereas the San Antonio Spurs
, Detroit Pistons
, Los Angeles Lakers
, and Dallas Mavericks
have appeared on the network every year since 2002. The Atlanta Hawks
did appear on ABC during the network's coverage in the 1960s and 1970s, including a Christmas Day game against the Phoenix Suns
. They didn't appear until Game 7 of the 2008 1st Round Playoffs
against the Boston Celtics
.The Utah Jazz
appearances have all come during the playoffs.
The Clippers in fact did have an appearance scheduled on ABC, for an April 15, 2007 home game versus the Sacramento Kings. However, due to the lackluster performances by both teams during the course of the season, ABC instead pulled the game from its schedule, and inserted a game between the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs (which was already part of that day's regional doubleheader schedule), and that Kings-Clippers matchup was instead aired locally on each team's regional sports carrier, thus waiving ABC's exclusivity rule for that 3:30pm Eastern time slot.
The Los Angeles Lakers have appeared in ABC's featured Christmas Day game every season (against the Sacramento Kings in 2002, the Houston Rockets in 2003, the Miami Heat in 2004, 2005 and 2006, and the Phoenix Suns in 2007). After the Miami Heat, who have three Christmas Day appearances on ABC, the Sacramento Kings are the only other team to have repeat appearances on the holiday (in 2002 against the Lakers and in 2003 against the Mavericks).
Use of women
Unlike its predecessors, (but very much like Fox Sports
) ABC has been known to add shots of cheerleaders during pregame montages, as well as shots of the dance teams many times when coming back from a commercial break. During the 2003 NBA Playoffs
, especially in the three games televised from Los Angeles
, ABC would routinely cut to low-angle shots of attractive women in the stands, leading to the coining of the term "boob cam" by Pardon the Interruption
host Tony Kornheiser
During the 2004 NBA Playoffs, ABC and ESPN's telecasts were heavily sponsored by the feature film, The Day After Tomorrow
. During the 2005 NBA Playoffs, games were sponsored by XXX: State of the Union
and, during the Finals, Fantastic Four
. From 2002 to 2005, ABC's halftime report was sponsored by Verizon Wireless
. Starting with the 2005-06 season
, it was sponsored by T-Mobile
. From 2002 to 2005, ABC had a GMC
sponsored feature known as the GMC Professional Grade Plays of the Week
, which was later changed to the GMC Professional Grade Matchup
during the 2005 NBA Playoffs. During the 2003 NBA Finals, ABC adopted one of ESPN's SportsCenter
features, The Budweiser Hot Seat
, which was hosted by Jim Gray
. Other ESPN features that ABC has used include the Sprite Mad Skillz
, and GameTrack
, which was sponsored by varied brands, including KFC
, ABC's telecast of the Miami Heat
-Los Angeles Lakers
game on Christmas Day 2004, was sponsored by American Express
, also the NBA Sunday
package after the All-Star break in 2007 became sponsored by Hertz
As official sponsors of the NBA, T-Mobile, Sprite/Coca-Cola, Budweiser/Bud Light, American Express and Toyota each sponsor segments and/or have commercials aired during telecasts.
Since the beginning of the NBA on ABC
, Ahmad Rashad
has delivered weekly interviews with NBA players in a segment known as Access Ahmad
. In addition, Rashad hosts NBA Access with Ahmad Rashad
, a weekly show about the lives of NBA personalities. From 2003 to 2005, ABC's pregame show had a feature known as The NBA Minute
, where celebrities (including Ice Cube
, Samuel L. Jackson
, and Ron Howard
) would have a minute to talk about the NBA.
up until 1973
, ABC was the primary television partner of the NBA. For much of the 1960s, ABC only televised Sunday afternoon games, including the playoffs. This meant that ABC did not have to televise a potential NBA Finals deciding game if it was played on a weeknight. In 1969
, ABC did televise Game 7 of the Los Angeles Lakers
series in prime time on a weeknight. The following season, ABC aired the 1970 NBA Finals
in full, making it the first NBA Final to have all games televised nationally.
Commentators for the original NBA on ABC included play-by-play men Keith Jackson and Chris Schenkel and analysts Jack Twyman, Bob Cousy, and Bill Russell. On April 8, 1967, an AFTRA strike forced ABC Sports producer Chuck Howard and director Chet Forte to call Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals between Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers. Curt Gowdy also was the play-by-play for half of the season in 1967.
- 4 cameras:
- one on each side center court
- one under each basket on wheels
- 2 tape machines - 1" tape was used:
- One machine dedicated to one of the Center Court cameras
- The other was switched between basket cameras- this developed backside replays (by accident)
- 1 Chyron graphics machine
- Analog 24-second clock on the floor
- 1 Producer; 1 Director; 1 Associate Director; 1 Production Asst; 1 Statistician/Spotter; 1 tech director; 4 Cameramen; 2 tape operators; 1 audio rep
- On April 30, 2006, with a minute to go in overtime of Game 4 of the Los Angeles Lakers-Phoenix Suns first round playoff game (a game that ended with a game winning shot by Kobe Bryant at the buzzer), a cable-only ABC affiliate in Santa Cruz, California operated by San Francisco's KGO-TV cut away to an infomercial of The Best of the Dean Martin Variety Show hosted by Regis Philbin - never going back to the game, most likely due to automation that triggered the infomercial to start without interruption.
- ABC's March 23, 2003 telecast of the Los Angeles Lakers playing the San Antonio Spurs was interrupted several times for ABC News coverage of the Iraq War. Game coverage was moved around on ESPN and ESPN2 before ending on ABC, towards the end of the fourth quarter. Several times in 2003, ABC went to news coverage at halftime of an NBA game, for an update on the war. The January 30, 2005 broadcast of the Houston Rockets and the Miami Heat was delayed by a speech by United States President George W. Bush on the Iraqi elections.
- The April 30, 2006 playoff game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns was the latest a non-prime time game has gone. The telecast ended at 6:39 p.m. Eastern Time, after a game winning shot in overtime.
- On January 22, 2006 two of the more notable NBA regular season games in recent history occurred, as Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant scored 81 points in a single game and the Seattle SuperSonics beat the Phoenix Suns 152-149 in double overtime. Neither of those games aired on ABC, which instead broadcast the 76ers-Timberwolves game and a Denver Nuggets-San Antonio Spurs game regionally.
- The February 5, 2006 ABC telecast between the Houston Rockets and New York Knicks did not air in Detroit, which was hosting that day's Super Bowl, or Pittsburgh, whose Steelers were competing in the game. Viewers in Detroit and Pittsburgh were able to watch the game on ESPN2. Viewers in Detroit could also watch the game on WTVG-TV in neighboring Toledo. Later that month, WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh once again pre-empted an NBA on ABC game, cutting off the first hour of the February 26, 2006 NBA on ABC game featuring the Cleveland Cavaliers and Detroit Pistons so they could instead show an hour of children's programming, including Phil of the Future and The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. This is not an isolated incident for WTAE-TV, as each week, they pre-empt the NBA on ABC pregame show so they can fit in ABC's children's programming to meet their E/I requirements due to airing local news on weekend mornings.
- Also on February 26, 2006, ABC used sideline reporter Stuart Scott as its halftime host for the Cavaliers-Pistons game. Scott hosted the halftime show from The Palace of Auburn Hills, without an analyst. This is mainly due to the fact that there was no pregame show that day, and then-regular host Mike Tirico was on assignment covering a golf tournament.
- On February 4, 2007, ABC had Mike Breen join Michael Wilbon and Mark Jackson during the halftime show of the Pistons-Cavaliers from Cleveland. There was no pregame show and the regular host, Dan Patrick, was covering the Super Bowl in Miami.
- On March 16, 2008, ABC originally had one game scheduled between the New Orleans Hornets vs. Detroit Pistons but changed the start time to 1:00 ET and added the Los Angeles Lakers vs. Houston Rockets contest originally scheduled to be seen on NBA TV at 7 ET to 3:30 for a NBA Sunday doubleheader due to growing attention toward the game.