TNT Tips Off NBA Playoffs With Rihanna, Times Square Buy | Adweek TNT Tips Off NBA Playoffs With Rihanna, Times Square Buy | Adweek
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TNT Tips Off NBA Playoffs With Rihanna

Turner net preps big promo push

Carmelo Anthony Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images

With the curtain set to go up on the 2013 NBA Playoffs, Turner Sports is priming the promotional pump with a little help from Rihanna and the Crossroads of the World.

Beginning Sunday night, TNT will hype its coverage of the opening round of postseason play with a 30-second spot featuring Rihanna belting out “Right Now,” the anthemic track from her 2012 album Unapologetic.

Produced by Turner Sports, the “Right Now” promo will premiere on TNT’s Inside the NBA following Game 1 of the Houston-Oklahoma tilt. The studio show caps a full day of action; at 1 p.m. EDT Sunday, TNT tips off its postseason coverage with Atlanta at Indiana, following up with Milwaukee at Miami at 7 p.m. and the aforementioned Rockets at Thunder showdown immediately thereafter.

Designed to reinforce TNT’s familiar “Win or Go Home” refrain while imparting a particularly heightened sense of urgency, “Right Now” serves as the unifying theme for the network’s NBA Playoffs coverage. Keying off the song’s bridge, the lyrics drive the point home with all the ferocity of Blake Griffin posterizing a defender with a monster dunk: “Something you wanted to do all your life / There’s no waiting, tonight is the night / And it can’t be wrong, not if it feels this right / Turn it up, scream it loud, yeah…”

Among the NBA stars that are spliced in with shots of Rihanna are Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony and Paul Pierce. 

As a tablesetter for the big weekend, TNT on Friday night will take over a 15,000-foot vertical chunk of Time Square real estate. A multistory, interactive billboard at 1551 Broadway will feature a series of custom videos, highlights and, for an eight-hour stretch, a series of Twitter polls. For example, passersby will be prompted to vote on which local franchise has a better shot at advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals (#TNTKnicks or (#TNTNets).

Also turning heads on Broadway tonight will be the Inside the NBA studio team: Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal.

Once the Playoffs are underway, TNT will target the male 18-49 set with prime time buys on broadcast and cable, digital and print ads (USA Today, New York Times, New York Daily News and the Los Angeles Times). Activation is planned for all Turner-owned assets, including on-air (TNT, TBS, truTV, CNN, Adult Swim) and digital (Bleacher Report, NBA.com).

The TV spots will run through April 28 and include a mix of 15- and 30-second executions. A more concentrated DirecTV buy will continue through April 21.

“The spots will be updated as the teams progress through playoffs and we begin to get a better picture of the overarching narrative,” said Christina Miller, svp and general manager, Turner Sports strategy, marketing and programming, and NBA Digital. “Every game counts, and these spots are meant to convey that sense of urgency. Lose and your season is over.”

Last year, two First Round Series went the full seven games and another pair were decided in six. Only the San Antonio-Utah and Oklahoma City-Dallas series were hashed out in the minimum stretch of four games.

First Round and Conference Semifinals series are shared by TNT, ESPN and ABC. The Turner net enjoyed one of the highest-rated early games, as the deciding matchup in the Lakers-Nuggets series delivered 6.46 million viewers and 3.83 million adults 18-49 on May 12, 2012.

Among TNT’s most anticipated early games are Boston at New York on Tuesday, April 23, and Brooklyn at Chicago on Saturday, April 27.

ESPN’s coverage of the NBA Playoffs begins tomorrow with a triple-header (Golden State at Denver, Chicago at Brooklyn, Memphis at the Los Angeles Clippers). ABC tips off Saturday afternoon with the first game of the Celtics-Knicks tilt.

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