Magazine article Variety

Buzz at the Buzzer

Magazine article Variety

Buzz at the Buzzer

Article excerpt

Fantastic finishes on court and bold banter off court burnish TNT's sports rep Byjoshchetwynd

TNT might be A part-timer when it comes to cable's sporting landscape, but that doesn't mean it isn't a player.

"We look for premium sports properties," Turner Broadcasting System sales, distribution and sports prexy David Levy says. "Whenever we consider a property, we always ask does it fit with that brand."

From the beginning, the emphasis has been on marquee opportunities. It started with the NBA in 1989 and, in 1990, TNT acquired the rights to NFL games. That combination was a key driver in expanding TNT's distribution from about 17 million homes to some 50 million in only a year and a half, according to Levy.

While its football rights ended in 1997, TNT has replaced them with other high-profile opportunities. Along with the NBA, the network's current sports slate includes the PGA Championship, PGA Grand Slam of Golf, NASCAR and, with sister networks TBS and TruTV, NCAA college basketball March Madness.

Still, it's TNT's long-standing association with professional basketball that most defines its sports coverage.

"I think other leagues would be envious of TNT's relationship with the NBA," says Mike McCarthy, Legacy Agency head of media consulting and former CEO of the NHL's St. Louis Blues. "There is a great mix of loyalty (to the league) with high levels of journalism."

From a ratings standpoint, it's certainly been a strong partnership. In the 20112012 season, TNT earned its highest-rated NBA regular season (an average of 2. …

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