Turner Sports requires to grow its NHL audience — Charles Barkley is the secret

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Turner Sports needs to grow its NHL audience — Charles Barkley is the key

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Charles Barkley on Inside the NBA

Source: NBA on TNT

The National Hockey League requires crossover appeal, and with its brand-new media rights collaboration with Turner Sports, it’s the ideal time to include Charles Barkley to its protection.

The NHL and Turner’s moms and dad business WarnerMedia consented to a rights pact for more than $1 billion in April, under which Turner will air 3 Stanley Cups and the Winter Classic. Turner squandered no time at all contributing to relaying skill, and on Wednesday, landed hockey legend Wayne Gretzky.

The choice to include Gretzky is a great relocation, specifically if Turner wants to get a Tony Romo-like effect to its protection. And who much better to break down hockey than “The Great One?”

But Turner’s protection isn’t about simply describing the characteristics of an NHL contest. It’s about home entertainment and growing the NHL beyond its conventional fanbase. Barkley can aid with that development.

In sports service circles, there’s chatter TNT president Lenny Daniels is being advised to think about the relocation, and he should. Here’s why.

The Babe Ruth of the NHL

On Tuesday, Gretzky, 60, left an executive function with the Edmonton Oilers and will now try to transform himself the exact same method Barkley performed in 2000 when he signed up with Turner’s “Inside the NBA” program.  

In an interview with the Associated Press, Gretzky stated the “stars were aligned” while going over the transfer to Turner Sports given that he’ll be closer to household, which is a benefit. “And I get to do what I love to do, which is talk about hockey,” he included.

There’s no doubt Gretzky was a phenom on the ice. He’s the all-time leader in overall points, objectives scored, and helps. He won the Hart Memorial Trophy 9 times, making 18 NHL All-Star looks, and won 4 Stanley Cup prizes. Respected sports media consultant Lee Berke stated Gretzky’s Turner Sports addition resembles the Babe Ruth of hockey appearing.

“There is nobody better offensively, and he’s got a terrific name that appeals to people – and casual fans know Wayne Gretzky,” stated Berke, the CEO of LHB Sports, Entertainment and Media. “The question is: As good as a reputation is, how will that person do as an analyst?”

“He’s going to have to prove himself all over again,” Berke included. “And they’re (Turner Sports) going to have to give him time. But in terms of attracting attention, building momentum, it’s a good move.”

Jamie Redmond interviews Wayne Gretzky prior to Game Four of the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Final in between the Boston Bruins and the St. Louis Blues at Enterprise Center on June 03, 2019 in St Louis, Missouri.

David Flotte | NHL Images | National Hockey League | Getty Images

Again, if he replicates Romo, the previous Dallas Cowboys quarterback turned CBS Sports star, it’s a success. But keep in mind, ESPN attempted to change another Cowboys terrific, Jason Witten, for a comparable function, which didn’t exercise too.

It’s here Barkley can aid with Gretzky’s shift. After all, he’s credited with assisting land Gretzky to Turner’s NHL team. Barkley is genuine and has an excellent TELEVISION character. Viewers tune in, whether they concur with his viewpoint or not.

And Barkley is a sports fan. Outside of the NBA, he does studio work for Turner and CBS’ NCAA guys’s basketball protection and chimes in on golf occasions. He’s likewise a hockey fan, so he recognizes with the sport.

“He’s iconoclastic, opinioned – his opinions are thought out, funny and clever,” stated Berke, pointing out Barkley’s brief look on NBC Sports’ NHL protection while going to a Stanley Cup video game in 2019.

“He was only on about five or six minutes, and he was terrific,” Berke included. “I think he would be a tremendous addition and has a great perspective to offer up.”

NHL on Turner requires to be various 

Speculation about Barkley’s addition for NHL protection isn’t brand-new. A couple of media outlets, consisting of Sports Illustrated, pointed out the concept after Turner caught NHL rights. But the network will require to distinguish from ESPN to generate a brand-new audience.

The Disney-owned network will return professional hockey to its lineup for the very first time given that 2004, paying about $400 million overall for the bundle, that includes streaming. Berke stated ESPN will continue to function NHL expert Barry Melrose for its protection and, more than likely, take a “professional” method in the method it provides hockey video games.

Turner can check out a bit more, however, as the network makes with the NBA. Berke credited Turner’s transfer to include famous pitcher Pedro Martinez to its Major League Baseball protection in 2013.

“It’s one of the great things about Turner,” Berke stated. “They come up with a way of showcasing sports. They do a spectacular job with the NBA. They come up with their own flair and commentary that gives a different perspective.”

Asked how Daniels would approach constructing an NHL audience, Berke, who has actually understood the sports executive for many years, reacted: “I think he’s going to want to come up with his distinctive approach.”

“You already have a core audience that wants to see these games,” he included. “So you’re not going to reinvent everything from scratch. You’ll need to develop credibility, and certainly Kenny Albert, Wayne Gretzky develop credibility. But you also want to develop your own style for it.”

And what much better method to do that than with a voice like Sir Charles?

Barkley does not require to teach the video game. He simply requires to make it amusing for casual fans. Turner might include a Barkley hockey web cam or get a sponsored section with Barkley’s insight from time to time. Something, anything, however discover a method to include him.  

The obstacles exist, specifically given that the NBA and NHL seasons overlap. But there are likewise chances to make it work, like the Winter Classic or those Stanley Cup provings.

“Add Barkley, add Gretzky – come up with more stars and showcase in a way that makes it yours,” stated Berke. “I hope they can pull it off. He (Barkley) adds interest and viewers to anything he gets involved in.”

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