TNT decided to experiment a little bit with its broadcast of last night's Thunder vs. Warriors game in Oakland, Calif. Instead of using a traditional booth of of a play-by-play man along with a color analyst, the NBA network partner decided to cast Steve Kerr, Chris Weber and Reggie Miller as the guides to the game, comprising a boradcast booth of three color analysts.
The NBA has had a ton of success on TNT and the network opted to experiment and try something new. They hoped the three would be able to tell the story of the game while creating a sort of discussion-like atmosphere. It was an experiment in every sense of the word, but one that the network has the license to try considering all its success.
They get an A for effort, although the execution probably needed some work.
The three were game to try and make things work. And they were probably fortunate that the game turned into a blowout. The three were at their strongest in this moment of the game when what was going on on the court was of little consequence. This free them up to talk.
However, it was clear something was missing. And in a close game, the broadcast would have needed more guidance.
Steve Kerr played point man and did a pretty good job considering it was his first time in the lead chair. He gave his co-analysts plenty of time to speak and set them up with good questions and then took his turn last. He tried to keep some focus on the game, but it was very much more about the discussion rather than the game.
Kerr did his best though to keep the action moving and keep everyone involved.
This is where a play-by-play broadcaster helps a ton. He helps keep the focus on the game at important times and uses the context of the game to bring the analyst in. Kerr was still getting the finer points of that (again a good first effort).
The other thing that was lacking was an emotion. Except for a buzzer beater at the end of the first half, Kerr's detached, analytical style sapped some energy from the game. What makes guys like Marv Albert, Mike Breen and Mike Tirico so good as play-by-play broadcasters is there ability to tie everything together and provide ample emotion at the right time.
The broadcast never drew the audience quite into the game. If it were a close games, the broadcast might have really struggled.
Our colleagues over at Awful Announcing shared many of the same thoughts. It was an interesting broadcast for sure. It may be an experiment we see again.
If they do opt to do it again, it might be better to have someone with a little more energy in the lead chair and it would be better to have that person keep more focus on the game. The "bar conversation" aspect was interesting but it did keep guys off topic and away from the game.