Over the past few years, since Disney (ESPN and ABC) and Turner Sports (NBATV and TNT) have taken over the broadcast rights to the National Basketball Association, primetime games have been banished to cable TV, with only Sunday afternoons featuring games on ABC during the regular season. This year, though, the announcement of the NBA schedule brought with it some surprises—namely, the inclusion of several primetime games airing on ABC on Saturday nights. Saturday night games used to be the province of NBATV, and often featured less interesting matchups. When you look at the schedule below, you’ll see that these games are anything but uninteresting:
From Awful Announcing:
Sat, Jan. 23 8:30 p.m. Chicago Bulls at Cleveland Cavaliers
Sat, Jan. 30 8:30 p.m. San Antonio Spurs at Cleveland Cavaliers
Sat, Feb. 20 8:30 p.m. Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Clippers
Sat, Feb. 27 8:30 p.m. Golden State Warriors at Oklahoma City Thunder
Sat, Mar. 5 8:30 p.m. Houston Rockets at Chicago Bulls
Sat, Mar. 12 8:30 p.m. Oklahoma City Thunder at San Antonio Spurs
Sat, Mar. 19 8:30 p.m. Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs
Sat, Apr. 9 8:30 p.m. Cleveland Cavaliers at Chicago Bulls
These Saturday night matchups feature Lebron James, Derrick Rose, the new-look Spurs with LaMarcus Aldridge, last year’s champs in the Golden State Warriors, Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and the up and coming Houston Rockets. Star power is the name of the game.
Saturday night isn’t traditionally a big TV night, but these games will likely draw a lot of eyeballs, especially among a sports public withdrawing after the end of college football. We’ll see if this move brings the kind of jolt that ESPN/Disney needs.