NBA content and distribution has made progress over 30 years
Gregg Winik refers to the last time the NBA’s All-Star Weekend was in Salt Lake City as a simpler time.
In 1993, festivities occurred over only two days while the fan festival known as Jam Session made its debut. For this year’s event, there are three nights of on-court action and other events throughout town.
This weekend’s events — including Saturday’s slam dunk contest and Sunday’s game — also show how much technology has changed and how fans can watch on television and online.
“The evolution with media has really happened since that time,” said Winik, the NBA’s President of Content and Executive Producer. “We’re now turning around content instantly on a global basis.”
Winik was a producer for NBA Entertainment during the 1993 game and was primarily responsible for producing features for NBC, TNT and “Inside Stuff.” NBA Entertainment also made halftime features for local broadcasters.
For this weekend, NBA Entertainment’s content will go to ESPN, TNT, NBA TV, NBA.com and the NBA app.
For the game 30 years ago, the league sent two cameras and an edit station to record and upload footage via satellite to the production studio in New Jersey. In some overflow cases, the NBA sent the tapes to one of the Salt Lake City television stations to get out quicker.
This weekend with mini-cameras and smartphones, content will be edited on phones or laptops and sent instantaneously.
Paul Hirschheimer, the league’s VP for content management, also noted that the fans can now program their own content instead of having producers select what airs. Cameras will be following players throughout the weekend and covering their every move.
“Now the options are infinite, and it’s about personalization customization. We’re going to pump it all out, and you decide what you want to watch. If you’re a fan of LeBron James or Ja Morant or Donovan Mitchell, there will be plenty of content for you,” Hirschheimer said.
The 1993 game returned to a prime-time window for the first time since 1976. Sunday night’s game will be on TNT, but TBS will have an alternate feed featuring the “Inside the NBA” crew. TNT’s broadcast will have Candace Parker, the first female analyst to call the event.
The game will also be distributed to 215 countries and translated into 60 languages, compared to 1993, when it went to 100 countries and 40 languages.
While both Winik and Hirschheimer are happy that there wasn’t a blizzard in Salt Lake City this weekend — which wasn’t the case 30 years ago — they are hoping for another exciting game. The 1993 contest featured nine members of the Dream Team that won a gold medal in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and 15 future members of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
The game ended up going to overtime and was won by the West, 135-132. Karl Malone and John Stockton of the Jazz won the MVP award, marking the first time teammates shared game honors.
“It was great seeing them share MVP honors in their own arena,” Hirschheimer said. “That game was so star-studded that it has similarities to this year. But even then, with the influence of the Dream Team, the game went global after that in terms of developing players. We were at an unbelievable level of players and stories then, and it’s happening again.”
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