It looks like TNT’s much-maligned “Players Only” broadcast has become a thing of the past.
Richard Deitsch of The Athletic reported Wednesday that the network has scrapped the idea — a broadcast featuring only ex-players, most of whom have no experience doing play-by-play — for the 2019-20 season. The format won’t be phased out entirely, per Deitsch, but it will be removed from game broadcasts.
Via sources: TNT will no longer air the Players Only NBA broadcast. Turner Sports will likely do some Players Only content but as far as games for the 2019-20 season, the Players Only broadcast on TNT is no more.— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) July 24, 2019
The idea was a good one in theory. Who knows the game better than former players? But it wasn’t much of a hit with the viewing audience, especially when you compare it to the quality of TNT’s usual game broadcasts.
The main issue for many was the play-by-play aspect. Former players typically thrive in the analyst role, but the “Players Only” broadcasts would often feel unorganized and unfocused without a play-by-play man describing the action.
The format debuted on TNT back in February 2017 as part of the network’s double-headers on Monday nights. The network pitched the idea as a more “conversational delivery to offer viewers an entertaining narrative and deeper insights into the game directly from the athlete’s perspective.”
The broadcasts featured a rotating crew of ex-players like Greg Anthony, Kevin McHale and Dennis Scott, among others, and would often throw back to the studio where other players would discuss the action in a laid-back setting. It served as a complement to the popular Inside The NBA show featuring Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith.
Ultimately, after parts of two seasons, the network pulled the plug.
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