The Athletic is acquiring the NBA-focused Count the Dings podcasts, The Big Lead has learned. The Daily Ding and Back to Back pods will both air behind The Athletic’s paywall, and are expected to debut there in April. Rob Lopez, Wos Lambre, Dave DuFour, Travonne Edwards, and producer Jade Hoye will be making the move over to The Athletic. Zach Harper, who is already a writer there, will remain on the podcast. At least at this time, ESPN personality Amin Elhassan will not be on the shows. However, the plan is for The Athletic’s NBA reporters/columnists like Shams Charania, Sam Amick, and Frank Isola to make appearances.
Casual fans tuning into tonight’s Big East tournament semifinal games on FS1 and tomorrow night’s final on Fox may be in for a surprise and feel a bit nostalgic. Several times throughout the telecast, the producers will play the iconic ‘Roundball Rock’ theme, which was made famous in the 1990’s during NBC’s coverage of NBA games.
After NBC lost its NBA package in 2002, the song disappeared from sports telecasts except for during the 2008 Olympics basketball games. In December, Fox executives brought the song back for its college basketball telecasts, causing confusion among viewers. “When it first happened, there were some people that were Tweeting and going, ‘No, you can’t use this. This is my NBA basketball theme,’” John Tesh said.
Through the years, the reaction has changed, as people connect ‘Roundball Rock’ with some classic games from the 1990’s featuring Michael Jordan and other stars. “It’s almost like when you hear your favorite old rock song today, it takes you back to that time,” Tesh said.
CNN President Jeff Zucker will take on an expanded role that includes overseeing sports for WarnerMedia, which runs properties including PGA.com, PGATour.com, NCAA.com, Bleacher Report and B/R Live, a premium sports streaming network. Zucker previously oversaw sports programming and the Olympics when he was president of NBC Universal Television Group. “I was surprised by some of the changes they are making, some of the personnel changes,” Silver told NBC News. “I ultimately understand that as the acquirer, and having invested an enormous amount of money in integrating these businesses, that they have a vision for how they want to do things.”
“I think what we are looking forward to, in the case of AT&T — and Disney, as the owners of ESPN — is a recognition that in order to compete going forward, they are going to have to retool their packages so they are able to connect directly with that younger fan base,” said Silver.