No NBA games on TV? American Chopper still rolling

November 2, 2011

The NBA season should have begun last night. The big match-up was supposed to be between the Dallas Mavericks and the Chicago Bulls. But of course that never materialized.

It’s unfortunately nearing the point where the league will be hard-pressed to play a full season, even if an agreement is reached soon. Only so many games can be squeezed into January, February and March.

So what is a fan to do? Look around for other entertainment, probably, whether that’s NCAA basketball or ice hockey. Or Storm Chasers. Or American Chopper.

In fact, Discovery Communications Chief Executive David Zaslav, whose networks broadcast those two shows plus a host of other adventure and science programs that draw a male 18-49 demographic, could be a beneficiary of the NBA lockout. He was asked just that question on a conference call.

“Look, on the NBA front, having male audience available is an opportunity for us,” he said while discussing his company’s quarterly earnings .”We do have an overlap with sports viewership, it should work out to our advantage, but we’re taking a wait and see attitude.”

The hope is that viewers would find shows like “American Chopper,” get hooked and stay with them even when the NBA gets back to business.

Time Warner is coming at the lockout from another angle. It stands to be one of the losers if more games are cancelled, since TNT is a chief broadcaster of NBA games. It cautioned on Wednesday that the loss of games in the fourth quarter would weigh on advertising sales at Turner — which oversees TNT —  although executives also noted that there would be some offset because of lower programming costs.

But the headache of being caught in a labor dispute between owner and players appears not to have soured CEO Jeff Bewkes on sports.

“We have said it a lot, sports is an important part of the offering at Turner, but we are focused on having the right sports,” said Bewkes.  “We are very happy with the performance of NBA, Major League Baseball and NCAA, and, of course, you mentioning NFL, we are going to continue to evaluate potential opportunities in the future.”

The NFL? Nobody chasing the male 18-49 demographic — not even Discovery — wants to program against the NFL.

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The league decided years ago to emphasize and glorify individual players over team play. This of course led to the selfish arrogant “me” first and “me always” play the NBA embodies today. Watching football, soccer, baseball or hockey where team play is so valued by players and fans alike, I can only wish the league and its pouty selfcentered players would go away and never come back.


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