The National Basketball Association began its own television channel, leased to Turner Broadcasting System, as an opportunity to broadcast the many NBA games played throughout the season. Dedicated purely to American basketball, NBA TV is the oldest professional sports-owned cable network in North America.
When the channel was created in 1999, it was originally known as nba.comTV. With recording studios in Secaucus, New Jersey, the station expanded to nearly 45 million American homes and 30 other countries in a 2003 deal with Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications. This shift to these major television broadcast companies led to the channel’s take over by Turner Sports, a division of Time Warner, in 2007.
Once the NBA relinquished most of its control over NBA TV to Turner Sports, the channel was reinvigorated and re-launched in 2008. Turner Sports extended some of the analysts from its “NBA on TNT” television program, the channel got a new studio, and the programming was moved from New Jersey to the Turner Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. This move put the fledgling channel’s studio next to the home of “Inside the NBA,” further utilizing the new ownership’s connections to the NBA’s top assets.
NBA TV began making agreements with satellite and other cable providers in 2009. Satellite company DirecTV was the first to make a deal with NBA TV in 2009, adding the channel to the satellite company’s Choice Xtra package, a lower-priced deal that would make the channel available to more viewers. Similarly, Comcast reached a deal with Turner Sports that would add the channel to its basic Digital Classic package, also a lower-end grouping. Additionally in 2009, NBA TV reached programming agreements with Verizon FiOS, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Dish Network, and Cox Cable. A year later, in 2010, a similar carriage deal was put in place by AT&T U-verse. The only North American cable company that does not offer NBA TV is Charter Communications.
Top NBA Shows
Each day NBA TV runs basketball news, in addition to programming that demonstrates the lifestyles of individual players, re-broadcasts of famous games, and live games approximately four days a week during the professional season. Although the channel attempts to air live games that are not covered by ESPN, these games are subject to local blackout restrictions.
In addition to this NBA programming, the channel also broadcasts international games, primarily from the Euroleague and the Israeli Maccabi Tel Aviv team. Occasionally NBA TV carries games from the Chinese Basketball Association, and it frequently broadcasts American WNBA games.
The channel’s main program is “NBA Gametime Live.” This show focuses on a host and studio analysts who discuss the latest basketball news, analyze game highlights, and carefully examine team match-ups and games in progress. This program airs live six days a week, typically not airing on Thursdays because many of the analysts also work on “The NBA on TNT” that evening.
Other main programs on NBA TV include:
1. “NBA Action” – A former ESPN show, this weekly program runs news and highlights from the previous week’s NBA games and events. Co-hosted by Ian Eagle and Rich Ackerman, this half-hour program airs on Thursday evenings during the NBA season.
2. “NBA.com Fantasy Insider” – This program, hosted by Rick Kamla, is intended for fans who participate in fantasy basketball. The show provides up-to-the-minute statistics and information about each player available for fantasy play.
3. “Hardwood Classics” – Featuring many of the greatest games every played in NBA history, this series typically airs on Thursday afternoons, although it can be seen on other days as well. Most classic games are broadcast in two hours, but some of the older games with limited footage air in less time.
4. “Making the Call with Ronnie Nunn” – Ronnie Nunn, the NBA’s Director of Development for Officiating, co-hosts this program with Matt Winer. The pair review game footage and dissect the plays and officiating calls while they explain NBA rules and regulations.
5. “One on One with Ahmad Rashad” – Host, former professional football player, and well-known sportscaster Ahmad Rashad sits down with some of the best NBA players to discuss games, strategies, and general basketball knowledge.
NBA TV Availability
NBA TV is available either as part of a package deal or for an extra fee on most satellite and cable options:
DirecTV – channel 216
Dish Network – channel 156, channel 9508 (HD)
Xfinity – channel 478 (HD), channel 734, channel 749
Verizon FiOS – channel 89, channel 589 (HD)
At&T U-verse – channel 632, channel 1632 (HD)
Now TV – channel 678
Sky Angel – channel 331