- “No Dunks” is an NBA podcast from the creators of “The Basketball Jones” and “The Newbie”.
- In 2019, after the NBA TV present contract expired, the creators signed a cope with The Athletic.
- They now have top-of-the-line podcasts on The Athletic, constantly reaching 1 million downloads monthly.
The creators of “The Starters” within the 2000s went from taping a basketball podcast of their producers’ Toronto storage to a each day NBA TV present.
However their tv fame has been risky. In 2019, NBA TV selected to not renew the present’s contract, co-host Trey Kerby instructed Insider. Copyright points prevented the creators from utilizing the “rookie” identify that made them a mainstay within the NBA media.
Quick ahead to 2022 and the group, which now hosts the “No Dunks” podcast, is true again the place it began practically twenty years in the past: recording from Jason Doyle’s storage. Doyle produced the present for its 4 hosts: Tas Milas and JE Skates, who have been the unique voices of the podcast when it was generally known as “Basketball Jones”; Kirby, who joined the crew in 2010, and Lee Ellis, who joined in 2011.
The quintet is a far cry from the 20-person crew and tv studio that Turner Sports activities’ NBA Tv offered throughout their six-year tenure with the community. However “No Dunks” has continued to thrive — with steerage from a loyal fan base that follows them from storage to storage — and is now a podcast mannequin in The Athletic’s audio division.
How “newbies” turned “free brokers”
2013’s The Starters received off to a tough begin on NBA TV as they struggled to translate the hour-long podcast to TV.
The group discovered their stride in season two, by shortening this system and embracing the weirdness and affiliation that got here with NBA followers themselves.
“We’re not attempting to make this type of ‘boring’ sports activities program retro,” Skates stated. “We simply needed to carry on course for being ‘bizarre’ or no less than comfy with our pores and skin, and it took some time to get there.”
The unique 2013 NBA TV deal was for 2 years, with an possibility to increase for one 12 months. Turner renewed the present for that further 12 months, then signed the group to a different three-year deal that will maintain them on NBA tv till the summer season of 2019.
However in 2018, AT&T purchased the father or mother firm of Turner Sports activities Time Warner Inc. Millas believes the AT&T deal was the catalyst for canceling the present.
“AT&T got here in and made a purchase order and the cash needed to be carved out someplace,” Melas stated. “I’ll all the time assume it was due to a monetary choice and never due to what we did.”
Turner Sports activities declined an Insider’s request for remark.
Whereas the group wished to stick with Turner, they knew the reality concerning the media enterprise. Ellis stated he is additionally seen prime expertise come out and in of the highlight through the group’s tenure with Canadian media model theScore forward of NBA TV.
“It is a fickle business,” Ellis stated.
Later in 2019, the group began podcasting underneath the identify The Free Brokers. That title lasted solely seven episodes earlier than they discovered a brand new dwelling as one of many pioneers of The Athletic’s burgeoning podcast section.
How ‘No Dunks’ thrived in her new dwelling
The “The Free Brokers” podcast had many suitors when it hit the market in June 2019, in line with Matt Olson, the creators’ agent. The presenters included DAZN, Cadence13, SiriusXM and Westwood One, however the group ultimately signed with The Athletic.
“Athletic have appreciated them proper, and are going to make their flagship podcast within the NBA, and the quantity of NBA protection,” Olson wrote in an e mail to Insider.
Athletic has established itself as the highest sports activities media outlet since its founding in 2016. However it was within the early phases of constructing an audio division and seized the chance to signal a gaggle of skilled gamers to pioneer the NBA facet of its podcast arm.
“She was actually attempting to enhance the manufacturing of reveals that have been each helpful for sports activities followers and entertaining as nicely,” stated Andrew Wasserman, head of audio at The Athletic. “It is extremely tough to discover a higher instance of a gaggle of males who’ve achieved this stability than ‘No Dunks’.”
Athletic signed the creators in a two-year cope with a one-year extension, as did Turner.
Whereas the podcasters do not attend NBA occasions as continuously as they did Turner, they earn greater than they used to. Olson stated The Athletic is paying podcasters the next base wage for “No Dunks” than they have been getting from Turner’s Starters.
In distinction, “No Dunks” constantly tops podcast charts. Wasserman stated the present is The Athletic’s greatest NBA podcast and one of many highest rated out of 77 podcasts. He stated “No Dunks” constantly breaks 1 million downloads each month.
In accordance with Chartable, “No Dunks” has been ranked within the prime 20 basketball podcasts in the US, and is firmly within the prime 5 in international locations reminiscent of Canada, Australia and the Philippines.
The present’s success gave its creators some autonomy at The Athletic. She has branched out with podcasts together with the Components One present No Brakes, the baseball podcast No Ponts, and No Amateurs, which revolves across the actuality present, Survivor.
These are low-cost, low-energy experiences that may occur, and likewise enable the “No Dunks” group some reprieve from simply speaking concerning the NBA.
“Offering them with different inventive retailers truly makes their NBA content material higher and makes it extra fashionable, participating and enjoyable as a result of they themselves get pleasure from doing it extra,” Wasserman stated.
The unique Athletic deal for “No Dunks” solely licensed the present’s sound. However “No Dunks” can be on different platforms together with YouTube, the place it has greater than 50,000 subscribers. Doyle stated that Athletic licensed the video portion of the present when it signed a second contract with the creators final 12 months.
“No Dunks” is now signed with The Athletic via 2025, an extension equal to the group’s time with Turner.
As a part of the deal, San Francisco-based The Athletic helped fund a brand new studio for “No Dunks” in producer Doyle’s storage in Atlanta, the place the 5 creators have labored since Turner’s days.
They decide to report in Doyle’s storage, taking again the place all of it started, with the hosts dwelling close by.
Whereas the creators’ cheerful personalities have developed a loyal fan base over 16 years — hardcore followers have even gotten tattoos from the group, Wasserman stated — it is this course of and work ethic that has introduced “No Dunks” again to Doyle’s storage extra solidly and safely than every other time in the past.
“We use the lavatory in his home,” Skates joked. “that it our lavatory,” Doyle stated.