ESPN Taps Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson to Keep Viewers Watching NBA Finals

ESPN wants to cash in on the big audiences expected to tune into the NBA Finals, which kick off Thursday evening on ABC

Published Time: 06.06.2024 - 18:31:25 Modified Time: 06.06.2024 - 18:31:25

ESPN wants to cash in on the big audiences expected to tune into the NBA Finals, which kick off Thursday evening on ABC. Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson has a role to play.

The rapper, actor and entrepreneur will surface at various times during coverage, largely in pre-taped segments that appear during the “NBA Countdown” pregame show, but also within some game telecasts. He will do voice-over essays about the NBA Finals and appear on screen.

Viewers will see Jackson delivering his lines directly to the camera, with the NBA’s Larry O’Brien championship trophy in full view. The promotional vignettes will show him surrounded by imagery of NBA teams and elements meant to embody power — a nod to the Starz series of crime dramas he helped create. ESPN will use a rendition of his song “Many Men” — performed by the late Pop Smoke — called “Got It On Me” as backing music.

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“The collab with 50 was seamless,” says Terrell Bouza, coordinating producer at ESPN. “He was enthusiastic about the opportunity to work with us as much as we were to work with him. He bought into the ‘Power’ theme and really delive -

red on-camera.”

The Finals has other highlights. Longtime commentator Doris Burke will becomes the first woman to work as a television game analyst for any major men’s professional sports championship event.

The NBA Finals get underway as the league is in the midst of negotiations with a bevy of large media companies over renewing its media rights contracts, which expire after next season. While the NBA currently has deals in place with Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery, it is largely expected to create two new packages with Amazon Prime Video and NBCUniversal, while renewing a contract with Disney that calls for fewer game telecasts, while maintaining ESPN’s rights to the Finals broadcast on ABC. Warner Bros. Discovery is likely to try and use matching rights to continue showing some group of games, thought the outcome of such a maneuver is unknown at present.

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