THE SPORTS TV landscape in the UK saw another major shake-up this year when TNT Sports replaced BT Sport – taking many football fans by surprise.
Even the most casual sports viewers would have struggled to recognize the Warner Bros.-owned brand. Discovery which came on the scene this season.
TNT Sports has rights to the Premier League, Champions League and Europa League as well as the UFC.
But the brand is already a powerhouse in the US and Latin America – and SunSport visited its 300,000 square foot Atlanta headquarters for an exclusive insight into its ambitions.
TNT has notably established itself as the NBA market leader and close partner of the league.
It has been Warner Bros.’ most important basketball production for decades. Discovery in the United States, with support from sister platforms Bleacher Report and NBA TV.
Its crown jewel is the world-famous studio show “Inside the NBA,” featuring charismatic basketball icons Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith as well as legendary American broadcaster Ernie Johnson.
The welfare team will be at the heart of the media giant’s operations as it attempts to take on the UK TV market, SunSport discovered during the behind-the-scenes tour.
Fresh off a massive merger, Warner Bros. Discovery recently scaled back some of its U.S. sports production by canceling some high-profile shows – like HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel after 29 seasons.
Yet not only did the media giant acquire BT Sport, a deal it had not initially anticipated, but it also snatched UK broadcast rights to the NBA from Sky Sports after rebranding the channel as TNT Sports ahead of start of the 2023-24 season. .
Most read in Other sports
The BT Group’s decision to part ways with BT Sport – which broadcast NBA games between 2013 and 2018 – presented the US company with the opportunity last year to export the TNT Sports brand to the UK.
And it came at an opportune time, coinciding with the end of Sky Sports’ four-year TV deal with the league.
Boasting advanced technical infrastructure and access to a large and diverse content library, TNT Sports could suddenly become the home of the NBA in the UK, having already become one in the US.
It also gave the broadcaster a chance to showcase the new brand before Discovery Plus, a WDB streaming service, moves to Max in the UK as has been the case in other markets, which could happen in earlier in 2026 due to ongoing production deals with HBO and Sky.
“It was almost too good to pass up,” Scott Young, Warner Bros. senior vice president of content and production, told SunSport exclusively. Discovery Sports Europe.
TNT Sports wants UK and US departments to collaborate on sports coverage, a first for international WBD companies.
But bosses are determined to make it happen and even go beyond basketball, including the 2024 Paris Olympics, said Craig Barry, executive vice president of sports and chief operating officer of Young and Warner Bros. Discovery.
They hope the two teams can learn from each other, help them understand how content from one country translates to another — and maybe even reinvent each other’s programming.
“I think some of the ways we approach content creation are interesting to some of their fans,” Barry said. “And, conversely, I think some of the ways they create content will be a new perspective and a new way of looking for us.”
Young added: “We work closely with the Premier League and UEFA on how we elevate our football coverage. And we’ll start doing the same with the NBA as we start going to more and more games.
When it comes to NBA coverage in the UK, TNT Sports is currently only sourcing national broadcasts from the US.
It broadcasts nine live games a week, including a marquee Tuesday doubleheader around Inside the NBA – famous for being heavy on the on-air antics of O’Neal and Barkley, who saw the former get growing under a Christmas tree during last year’s show.
In addition to the 250 regular season games, the broadcaster promises to broadcast nine playoff games per week, the conference finals and the NBA Finals series.
It also offers two weekly magazines: NBA Action, featuring generic NBA topics, and NBA on Fire, featuring the best games from the previous week.
But TNT Sports is analyzing interest in specific players and teams and examining the popularity of different timeslots with the aim of developing a UK-based show, hoping its content will resonate better with British audiences.
“I mean, sometimes producers can make the mistake of having to jump too quickly into what they think people want to watch,” Scott said.
“Luckily, through social media and other means of communication, you can get real feedback on what audiences are enjoying these days and develop a show that suits our three-year term rather than trying to do something from day one that would not be appropriate.”
Building on its current NBA programming rather than adjusting it to a more culturally relevant form is the approach Warner Bros. is taking. Discovery wants to adopt.
TNT prides itself on embracing the intersection of sport and culture, as evidenced by the largely unscripted, playful and intentionally chaotic nature of Inside the NBA – a very different approach to that of a typical British football show.
After a SunSport visit to TNT headquarters, Shaq put Chuck in a headlock during a half to mock Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green’s brawl with French center Rudy Gobert during one of the matches of the day – and it went viral on social media.
TNT Sports wants to amplify moments like these to connect with fans, wherever they come from.
“We understand our obligation to the die-hard fans, but we also understand our equal obligation to the casual fans,” Barry said.
“It’s kind of the differentiation in how we create content and do our shows – with this really honest, unapologetic, authentic way of doing sports around the NBA.”
WBD executives believe TNT Sports programming will be translated, capitalizing on its originality, entertainment value and the British public’s prior exposure to the NBA.
The power of stars like O’Neal and Barkley makes them all the more confident in the success of this global business.
“I think that’s what people will be drawn to,” Young said.
“It’s not about whether this is American talent being seen by a British audience, it’s really engaging talent. You sit there and go, ‘They’re having a good time. I want to watch that.’ I learn something along the way.’
“A super fan knows everything there is to know about a sport, no matter what sport it is. Can we get a casual fan, and even a non-NBA fan, to start learning about it? benefit from this content?
“I think that’s the real growth opportunity for us.”
Additionally, WBD wants to grow TNT Sports’ portfolio, jumping on future opportunities if they fit the platform’s philosophy – as they did with the NBA rights.
“We review all sports rights as they become available,” Scott said. “Any serious sports broadcaster should and does.”
Watch all the latest NBA action live on TNT Sports. TNT Sports is available through its streaming destination Discovery+ and on all major television platforms. It’s not just sport, it’s everything. For more information, visit: www.tntsports.co.uk/basketball/nba/