NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC launches with Bulls-Cavs

Saturday night just became even better. NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC, the first primetime NBA weekend series on broadcast television, will launch tomorrow, Saturday, Jan. 23 at 8:30 p.m. ET when the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James host the Chicago Bulls and Jimmy Butler.

The game will mark the debut of new Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue, who was promoted from assistant when David Blatt was fired Friday afternoon.

Julie Sobieski. (Rich Arden/ESPN Images)
Julie Sobieski (Rich Arden/ESPN Images)

Vice President of Programming and Acquisitions, Julie Sobieski, answered a few questions with Front Row about the new series.

How did the idea of launching NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC come about?
The idea came out of ongoing, strategic conversations with the league, which we’ve been having over the past year. The NBA’s massive popularity continues to open doors for new, collaborative opportunities, and this new series demonstrates ESPN’s commitment to showcase the NBA as often – and across as many platforms – as possible.

New Production Features

Mobile LED video board: ESPN will usher a mobile LED screen on to the court to serve as the backdrop for the opening segment, featuring Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson.
Custom Broadcast Open: NBA Saturday Primetime only launches once, and the ESPN production crew is making sure the broadcast open is “Outasight” as in, the popular musical act Outasight. He stars in the new open along with a variety of NBA highlights. Outasight’s hit “Boogie” serves as the musical accompaniment.
New Animation Package: The franchise will have a new look and feel, as ESPN’s team will unveil a custom animation package to be used specifically for Saturday nights.

What was the thought-process in choosing games for Saturday night?
The NBA is clearly ascending with marquee players and rising stars like Steph Curry, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and LaMarcus Aldridge. This new Saturday prime-time package will expand upon those major storylines by creating a “big-game” feel and will showcase the sport’s top teams and most compelling storylines.

The NBA has enjoyed tremendous success on ABC, including winning the night 48 consecutive times during the NBA Finals. ABC and ESPN will “own the NBA weekend” with marquee games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Additional note: Play-by-play commentator Mike Breen and NBA analysts Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson will provide game commentary during NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC.

NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC Schedule

DateTime (ET)Game
Sat, Jan. 238:30 p.m.Chicago Bulls at Cleveland Cavaliers*
Sat, Jan. 308:30 p.m.San Antonio Spurs at Cleveland Cavaliers
Sat, Feb. 208:30 p.m.Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Clippers*
Sat, Feb. 278:30 p.m.Golden State Warriors at Oklahoma City Thunder
Sat, March 58:30 p.m.Houston Rockets at Chicago Bulls*
Sat, March 128:30 p.m.Oklahoma City Thunder at San Antonio Spurs*
Sat, March 198:30 p.m.Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs
Sat, April 98:30 p.m.Cleveland Cavaliers at Chicago Bulls
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