For ESPN and TNT, the return of the NBA is a ratings boon, but it presents broadcasting challenges

Both ESPN and TNT had been contending with a ratings dip for NBA games last year, but the 2019 NBA finals still brought in more than 15 million viewers. COVID-19 knocked all sports off the courts and fields of play for months, so you can bet that both ESPN and TNT are thrilled to welcome the NBA back on July 31st. With professional basketball only a little more than a month away, broadcasters will have a new challenge: remote broadcasting.

As reported by USA Today, the NBA has utilized remote broadcasting technology before, but thanks to the pandemic, it’s expected that this approach will be widely expanded, meaning remote-controlled broadcast cameras will be necessary, and play calling will take place from a studio, not on-site. This presents the NBA, and soon other sports, with an opportunity for innovation testing around a variety of online, mobile and cloud-based tools – technologies that are used in online video and esports that have just begun to be used in live newscasting during the pandemic.

The continued return of sports – college football is expected in August, followed by the NFL in September – is great news for networks and sponsors, a number of which have attempted to leverage esports during traditional sports’ absence. Interpret’s New Media Measure® has found that sports are watched by… an addressable TV audience of more than  …80 million people.

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