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NBA Finals Finally Top 10 Million Viewers In Game 4

NBA single-game viewership crossed the 10 million mark for the first time since 2019.

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Courtesy: WTMJ

“The Recovery” block by Giannis Antetokounmpo is what many fans are taking away from Game 4 of the 2021 NBA Finals. Yet, the 109-103 Bucks victory marked a different milestone for the league office.

According to Sports Media Watch, Wednesday night’s clash in Milwaukee was the first NBA game to cross the ten million viewer threshold since 2019.

Game 4 averaged 10.25 million viewers on ABC, eclipsing Game 2’s 9.38 million last Thursday as the league’s most-watched game in two years.

The nip-tuck battle had everything an NBA fan could ask for: Giannis blocks, Khris Middleton daggers, and Chris Paul turnovers. It was an encapsulating contest, and that rang true in the numbers.

The night peaked right in the middle of crunch time, with 12.56 million people tuning in between 11:15 and 11:30 p.m. ET. Overall, the game delivered the fifth-largest sports audience (excluding football) since the industry shuttered its doors due to the pandemic last year.

Wednesday’s game slots in behind Game 6 of last year’s World Series (12.70 million viewers), this year’s Kentucky Derby (14.37 million viewers), Gonzaga-UCLA in the Final Four (14.94 million viewers), and Baylor-Gonzaga in the National Championship (16.92 million viewers).

This year’s NBA Finals are slowly making up the gap between 2021 and 2019, but they are still a far cry from historical ratings. Game 4 viewership went up by 35% from last year’s event but is still down 20% from 2019. Sports Media Watch noted that Game 4 is the shortest gap of the series. Game 1 declined 36% from 2019, and Games 2 and 3 by 32%.

Overall, The NBA Finals are up 35% from last season. Yet, through four games it still doesn’t compare across history. The 9.31 million average viewers only rank ahead of 2007’s matchup between the Spurs and Cavaliers. That series ended in a sweep; while averaging 9.29 million viewers.

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Joe Buck Talks About Possibility of Troy Aikman Leaving Fox for Amazon

“We talk about what he’s deciding between and everything else, but I only ask questions and talk about it to a point.”

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Joe Buck joined Jimmy Traina on this week’s Sports Illustrated Media Podcast and discussed his thoughts on the possibility of Troy Aikman leaving Fox for Amazon. Buck and Aikman have worked in the booth together for 20 years calling NFL games.

Buck claims that he is trying not to think about it but says he respects Aikman’s decision, no matter what.

“I try not to because it’s been 20 years and I can honestly say, the same hand to the same god, he and I have never had one moment where we have felt like… at least I haven’t, and we talk about it all the time, we’re lucky that we’re good friends,” said Buck.

“And in this business, with as much as there is on the line, at least in our own minds every time you go on, and this business can be kind of backstabby, everybody’s climbing over one another to make something happen for themselves, he and I just have never played that game. He’s legitimately one of my best friends and I think he would say the same about me.

“So I try not to think about it. And we talk about it, we talk about what’s out there. We talk about what he’s deciding between and everything else, but I only ask questions and talk about it to a point. Because that’s his life, that’s his career. He knows how I feel. I don’t want him going anywhere. And that’s understood. But at the end of the day, he’s gonna do what he wants to do.”

If you’re wondering who might replace Aikman alongside Buck, Buck is too.

“It’s funny. I haven’t said one word to Fox about all that,” said Buck. “And they have not talked to me about all that. Not at any point.”

“I think I would be in the conversation but I think they certainly are in no way, shape, or form obligated to listen to anything I have to say. They’re the boss, I’m the guy who sits in the booth.

“I’ve worked with multiple people in baseball, I’ve worked with multiple people in football. I started with Tim Green and I’ve been with Bill Maas and Brian Baldinger and different people along the way. I just… it’s been 20 years, and when you do these games, that are as intense as they are, I know where he’s going and he knows where I’m going, and I know what he wants to talk about and he knows when and what I want to talk about. That’s really hard to replicate.”

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‘The Tournament: A History of ACC Men’s Basketball’ Premieres Feb. 7 on ACC Network

Two episodes of the 10-part documentarry will air each Monday at 9 and 10 p.m. ET through March 7.

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ACC Network

ACC Network and ESPN Films are teaming up to produce a multi-part documentary on the history of the ACC Tournament.

The Tournament: A History of ACC Men’s Basketball Presented by New York Life will debut Monday, Feb. 7 at 9 p.m. ET following ACCN’s telecast of the Pitt-West Virginia game. Part 2 of the documentary will premiere directly afterward at 10 p.m. ET.

Two episodes of The Tournament will air each Monday at 9 and 10 p.m. ET through March 7. The 10-part documentary, spanning 1954 through 2020, will be the largest production of original programming for ACC Network since its launch in August 2019.

Here’s a look at the trailer for the docuseries:

For anyone wondering if the ACC Tournament warrants a multi-part documentary, consider the history and impact of the event. Beginning in 1954, the ACC was the first conference to determine its champion with a postseason tournament. And this was during an era when conferences received only one bid to the NCAA Tournament.

But the ACC Tournament also features the rich history of the conference with its many star players and iconic coaches. Michael Jordan, Ralph Sampson, David Thompson, Len Bias, and Tim Duncan are among the many to shine in the tourney. Of course, Dean Smith, MIke Krzyzewski, Roy Williams, and Jim Valvano headline the coaches who built their legends in those games. In addition, ACC play changed college basketball with innovations like the shot clock and three-point line.

The Tournament will also feature an ad campaign starring Grammy Award-winning rapper Rapsody leading viewers through ACC basketball history, the figures who made it, and the stories that will be told in each pair of episodes.

Filmmaker Jonathan Hock (who’s directed several 30 for 30 projects for ESPN Films among many documentary projects) and John Dahl (ESPN’s vice president and executive producer for original content, films, and special projects) are executive producers on the project. Emmy Award-winning director Larry Weitzman (NBA at 50, The Last Gladiators) helmed the longform series.

“After having the opportunity to work on the 30 for 30 Survive and Advance and later The Class That Saved Coach K, I was already a true believer in ACC basketball as the essence of the college game,” said Hock in the official ACCN announcement.

“But telling the story of the ACC Tournament from its very beginning was a journey of discovery for me and the whole production team, with every unopened film can revealing another treasure, and every interview bringing to life priceless stories. There’s no greater conference tournament in sports, and it’s all in here.”

“All we had to do was sit down with the wonderful characters who have created ACC lore, and the stories and the passion just poured out,” added Weitzman. “The challenge wasn’t finding enough fascinating material. The struggle was which amazing stories we would have to leave out.”

You can read a synopsis of each episode of The Tournament: A History of ACC Men’s Basketball at ESPN Press Room. The documentary premieres Feb. 7 at 9 p.m. ET.

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Sports TV News

Bally Sports Launches Daily Sports Betting Show, ‘Live on the Line, Powered by BetMGM’

This marks a significant step for the company as we combine resources across our sports portfolio to launch our first RSN-wide sports betting program.”

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Bally Sports is jumping into daily sports betting content for viewers. (That probably shouldn’t be a surprise since Bally itself is a casino entertainment company with interests in sports and iGaming.)

On Thursday, the network announced a partnership with BetMGM to produce a daily sports betting show titled Live on the Line, Powered by BetMGM. Debuting this week, the program airs at 12 p.m. ET across the 19 Bally Sports regional sports networks, the Bally Sports app, and Stadium sports network.

Each day, the 60-minute show will cover national sports betting storylines and their regional appeal, while also offering expert picks on the day’s games and events.

Former Yahoo fantasy sports writer Brad Evans, now Bally Sports executive producer of gaming content hosts the show with Dani Klupenger and Camron Smith. Klupenger hosted More Ways to Win for FanDuel and has covered football, basketball, and tennis as a host and reporter. Smith also hosts Inside the Association on Stadium with prior stints at Big Ten Network, Comcast Sports, and MSG.

Live on the Line, Powered by BetMGM will be produced by Stadium (owned by Sinclair, as with the Bally Sports RSNs) out of the network’s Chicago-based studio. BetMGM graphics will be featured prominently on the set and interactive elements of each show.

“This marks a significant step for the company as we combine resources across our sports portfolio to launch our first RSN-wide sports betting program,” said president of Bally Sports Steve Rosenberg.

“Our collaboration with BetMGM further builds upon our programming strategy to offer fans new, informative and entertaining content that aims to drive increased interest around our live game broadcasts.”

Live on the Line, Powered by BetMGM airs at 12 p.m. ET across the 19 Bally Sports regional sports networks, the Bally Sports app, and Stadium.

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