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Charles Barkley And Fellow ‘Inside The NBA’ Hosts Re-Up With Warner Bros Discovery Sports On Eve Of Season Tipoff

Ahead of tomorrow’s tipoff of the 2022-23 NBA season, Warner Bros Discovery announced contract renewals for the four hosts of TNT’s mainstay studio show Inside the NBA.
Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, Shaquille O’Neal and Ernie Johnson will continue to host the program “for many years to come,” according to the official announcement. Barkley had been wooed by the LIV golf tour, a nascent venture backed by Saudi Arabia that has lavished extraordinary amounts of cash on players and broadcasters.
Terms were not disclosed. The New York Post reported that Barkley’s deal is for 10-years and “well over” $100 million. Kathleen Finch, Warner Bros. Discovery US Networks Group chair and chief content officer, indicated in an interview last week with Deadline sister publication The Hollywood Reporter that Barkley would be staying in the fold. She suggested his new role would include much more than the NBA. “I’m excited to find other ways to put him on television talking about something other than basketball,” she said. “Because he has a lot to say. He’s just a regular guy interested in a lot of things.”
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Inside the NBA has been on the air for 33 years and has managed to be the most consistently entertaining and zeitgeist-y of any sports studio show, in large part because of the freewheeling nature of the hosts, who mix game analysis with off-the-cuff banter and sometimes sober commentary on current events. Saturday Night Live cemented the show’s status with a parody sketch last season.
Just weeks after the $43 billion merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery closed last April, the new company showcased sports during its upfront presentation to advertisers, enlisting high-profile hosts Wayne Gretzky, David Ortiz and O’Neal to emphasize the company’s position in pro hockey, baseball and the NBA, respectively. With cost savings a key priority for the combined entity, however, questions have continued to swirl about how the company would manage its costly portfolio of sports holdings, from the talent roster to pricey rights deals. The NBA’s current multi-billion-dollar agreement with TNT expires at the end of the 2024-25 season.
“Our partnership with the NBA is very important to us and this long-term agreement with the Inside the NBA team is recognition of their significance to that relationship,” WBD Sports chief Luis Silberwasser said. “Inside the NBA epitomizes the creativity and innovative spirit we’ve established throughout our successful, long-standing partnership with the league.”
Barkley described the show’s team as “a big family,” saying that Johnson, Smith and O’Neal “are brothers to me.” As one of the most popular athletes-turned-pundits, Barkley has plenty of options. “I wouldn’t still be here if it wasn’t for them and all the amazing people who work on our show,” he said. “I’m not gonna lie, though, this is a life-altering deal…and I’m blessed to be able to do live television for a living.”

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