ABC to debut Saturday Night NBA games in January; no more Sunday doubleheaders

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NBA Saturday Night is coming to your big screen.

Once college football stops dominating every sports network on Saturday nights, ABC is going to turn its attention to the NBA, the network and ESPN (both owned by Disney) announced.

“Beginning in January, ESPN on ABC will launch a new, weekly prime-time NBA series with the debut of Saturday Night NBA on ABC. The exclusive, eight-game schedule – featuring the sport’s biggest stars and most compelling matchups – will begin January 23, 2016 with weekly game telecasts at 8:30 p.m. ET. NBA Countdown – ABC’s and ESPN’s NBA pre-game show – will precede the games at 8 p.m. The announcement was made today by ESPN President John Skipper and Disney/ABC TV President Ben Sherwood.”

We do not yet know what games will be broadcast (the NBA schedule will be released in the next few weeks), but this could end up being like the Thursday night TNT games, where the league can showcase its best matchups on a big stage. With what ABC is paying under the new television deal, if they want big games they should get big games.

For the network this makes some sense — Saturday night is a dead zone for scripted shows. They can only show so many Modern Family reruns.

With that Saturday night game, ABC will no longer do the Sunday doubleheaders. There will be just one showcase game (and expect the NBA to put a few potential games on the schedule that day and allow ABC to pick potentially another if the marquee game has lost its attraction due to injuries or whatever other reason.