May 25, 2024

Charles Barkley shares concerns about future of TNT’s ‘Inside the NBA’: ‘We might lose it’

TNT analyst and “Inside the NBA” mainstay Charles Barkley is “100 percent” concerned about TNT’s future with the NBA, he said on an ESPN Chicago radio show Tuesday.

TNT Sports is battling NBC for the final piece of the NBA’s next TV rights deal. Amazon Prime Video and ESPN/ABC already have the framework in place for contracts expected to be at least a decade in length, and TNT’s current contract with the NBA ends after the 2024-25 season.

When asked about the future of “Inside the NBA,” Barkley, who has been part of the broadcast since 2000, said those involved in the studio show “have zero idea what’s going to happen.”

“We might lose it. I feel so bad for the people I work with. It is brutal,” he told ESPN Chicago’s Tom Waddle and Marc Silverman. “Everybody’s scared to death.”

“Inside the NBA” first aired in 1989 and has become an institution of the NBA’s broadcast coverage. The current studio crew — Barkley, Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal — has been together since O’Neal joined the show in 2011. Johnson has hosted the show since 1990, while Smith joined in 1998.

TNT Sports has broadcast the NBA for nearly four decades.


Any deal for TNT or NBC is expected to include a conference final every other year, as opposed to TNT’s current setup of every season. Either network is anticipated to hold onto the yearly All-Star Game broadcast. The reported asking price is $2.5 billion per season.

Barkley went on to say he thinks it is “50-50” that TNT loses its slice of the media rights deal to NBC, though he hopes the network’s history of partnering with the league proves beneficial. TNT has held the rights to broadcast NBA games since 1989.

“You would think if it was close in a bidding war we would get the benefit of the doubt,” he said, “but clearly that’s not happening.”

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(Photo: Rich Fury / Getty Images)