The Oklahoma City Thunder's viewership area is growing by 65 percent this season, adding more than 1.5 million homes with the telecasts expanding into western Missouri, Nebraska and more of Kansas, according to officials with the team and Fox Sports Net.
Last season Thunder telecasts reached about 2.3 million homes, which included Little Rock and Fort Smith, Ark., said Dan Mahoney, Thunder vice president of corporate communications and community relations. The team's new five-state TV region of Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri and Nebraska will reach about 3.8 million homes. The team needed league approval for the expansion.
“We are thrilled with it,” Mahoney said. “We think there is great support in the region for the Thunder, and we look forward to finding as many new fans as we can get.”
The Thunder has sold out its last two preseason games in Wichita, Kan., and Mahoney said that area represents the second largest group of followers of the team's Twitter account.
FSN spokesman Geoff Goldman said the Thunder had been carried in parts of Kansas since the 2009-10 season. Kansas City, which will air 61 telecasts, will account for almost half of the new homes with more than 700,000 homes, he said. The number of Thunder telecasts on Fox Sports Kansas City and Fox Sports Midwest will range from 52 to 70, depending on the market.
“The Thunder is one of the league's top teams,” Goldman said. “For basketball fans in those areas, they will have a chance to see high-quality NBA basketball several times a week.”
DIGGINS INTERVIEWS DURANT
Tulsa Shock guard Skylar Diggins, a former Notre Dame standout, interviewed Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant this past weekend for the 5 p.m. Wednesday edition of ESPN's “SportsCenter.”
The basketball standouts played a game of HORSE and interacted with kids at the Oklahoma County Boys & Girls Club. Durant's mother, Wanda Pratt, had donated a mural to the club.
— At halftime of the Thunder-Jazz telecast Wednesday night, Fox Sports Oklahoma will air an interview with Durant, Nick Collison, and Russell Westbrook, the remaining three players from the first Thunder team. They sat down with TV analyst Grant Long to reflect on the past five seasons and their role in developing the Thunder culture. The second part will air Friday night during the Thunder-Timberwolves telecast.
— FSOK plans to include Thunder player introductions in all broadcasts of home games. “We think that brings the atmosphere of the game to the viewer,” Mahoney said.
— Jon Barry, a 14-year NBA veteran, has reached a multiyear agreement to serve as the lead analyst for the NBA on ESPN Radio, replacing Dr. Jack Ramsay. Kevin Calabro, who has called NBA games on ESPN Radio since 2008, returns as the play-by-play voice. P.J. Carlesimo, a former Nets and Thunder coach, will work select games, partnering with Marc Kestecher. Former Magic coach Stan Van Gundy will serve as a game analyst for 10 broadcasts.