Stephen A. Smith is in ESPN’s plans for NBA studio coverage this upcoming season, The Big Lead has learned from multiple people with knowledge of the situation. An ESPN spokesperson declined to comment on the news. Our sources indicate that Wednesday night is the most likely time for him to be involved, but cautioned that plans are not yet set in stone.
The likely scenario involves there being no episode of NBA Countdown on Wednesday nights in which the tip time is 7:00 pm, but there still needs to be a studio crew during halftimes of the doubleheader and perhaps as a brief bridge after 6pm SportsCenter. On occasions where the game tips at 7:30 pm, it is very conceivable that Smith could fill the half-hour gap after SportsCenter.
Rosalyn Gold-Onwude: 1/2 I’m bidding farewell to Turner Sports TNT/NBATV. I reflect on these 2 years so positively & am thankful for the opportunity to elevate my career, work big stages & work side by side with hoop legends!
One of the specific challenges for the NBA this year — which meant a significant task for Carelli and his crew — was to attack the decline in viewership from last season. Regular-season game telecasts across ABC, ESPN, TNT and NBA TV in 2018-19 averaged 1.2 million viewers, down 5 percent from the previous season. (NBA games were still up 3 percent from two seasons ago.) Particularly problematic was the viewership of the early windows of NBA national TV doubleheaders. Last year, per Sports Business Daily, TNT saw a 23 percent drop in viewership for the early windows in a doubleheader. ESPN had an 11 percent drop in the early window for its doubleheader games.
“Overall, it’s an acknowledgement by the NBA that their prime-time telecasts have to be seen where the viewers are to maximize ratings and media revenues — and that means viewers in the Central and Eastern time zones,” said longtime sports TV consultant Lee Berke, who has clients across NFL, MLB, NBA, NCAA, NHL and NASCAR.
Chauncey Billups, the NBA champion point guard turned broadcaster, will be a familiar face on Clippers television broadcasts during the upcoming season. Billups, who retired in 2014 after a 17-year playing career — one that includes an NBA championship run with Detroit in 2004 and two seasons spent with the Clippers, from 2011 to 20 13 — confirmed via text Friday that he will work as an analyst along play-by-play broadcaster Brian Sieman on the team’s Prime Ticket/Fox Sports West broadcasts.