Is TNT's Inside the NBA Ending? Cancellation Speculation Explained

By David Thompson Posted:
TNT's Inside the NBA roster

There is a chance TNT's Inside the NBA will be cancelled after the NBA Playoffs.

Inside the NBA is a post-game show for NBA on TNT broadcasts, hosted by Ernie Johnson since 1990, with analysts (and former players) Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley, and Shaquille O'Neal. 

Smith joined Johnson full-time in 1998, while Barkley, notorious for his bold statements, joined the show in 2000. The now beloved quartet rounded out when Shaq came on board in 2011, introducing the famous 'Shaqtin' a Fool' segment.

However, the status of Inside the NBA heading into the 2024 offseason is up in the air, with a new TV rights deal possibly ending the show forever.

Is TNT's Inside the NBA Ending?

Charles Barkley on Inside the NBA

The unfortunate truth about Inside the NBA is that it is unclear whether the show will continue after this year.

The NBA's longstanding partnership with Warner Bros. Discovery's Turner Sports is facing a significant challenge as Comcast's NBCUniversal aims to secure the league's broadcast rights with a lucrative $2.5 billion-per-year offer. 

The Ringer's Bill Simmons strongly believes that the deal has already been finalized, with NBC set to acquire the rights, leaving Warner Bros. Discovery out. 

While Warner Bros. Discovery is still in discussions with the NBA, the league is leaning towards formalizing a deal with NBCUniversal, which could prompt Warner Bros. Discovery to exercise its option to match the offer.

WBD still holds NBA rights for the 2024-2025 season, opening up the possibility for that to be the final year of Inside the NBA.

However, this potential shift raises questions about the future of Inside the NBA and the fate of its iconic cast, including Charles Barkley, who might have the option to leave if TNT loses its NBA rights. 

In a recent interview, Barkley expressed the crew's anxiety about the uncertain future of Inside the NBA, noting they are "scared to death." 

During a recent episode of Inside the NBA, Barkley hinted at the show's potential demise, joking that he was "going to be on LinkedIn tomorrow afternoon."

However, sources tell Front Office Sports that WBD is actively negotiating to retain its NBA broadcasting rights. 

While ESPN is expected to secure the primary "A" package, WBD is still vying for the "B" package, which features a conference final every other year, or the "C" package, covering the midseason tournament, play-in games, and early-round playoff series.

With the NBA possibly leaving TNT and heading to NBC and Amazon, the status of Inside the NBA is unknown, but there is hope.

How Inside the NBA Could Continue

Even if TNT loses Inside the NBA, that doesn't necessarily mean Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley, and Shaquille O'Neal would be done together.

Bill Simmons remains confident that Inside the NBA will survive a possible network change. The NBA analyst anticipates Barkley, Kenny, and possibly Shaq relocating to another network like NBC (Peacock), ESPN, or Amazon.

This would make a lot of sense as ESPN's competing show NBA Countdown has struggled to find the same chemistry as the Inside the NBA crew over the years. 

The issue with the Inside the NBA guys leaving for a new network is that they may not share the same opinion.

Back in October 2022, all four members signed contract extensions for Inside the NBA on TNT. 

Johnson, a 67-year-old sportscaster has been with Turner Sport since 1989. At the time of their recent extension, he called Inside the NBA a job he's lucky he gets to do, calling it "a journey of a lifetime:"

"I always say there are 'Got to, jobs' and 'Get to, jobs,' and the four of us clearly have 'Get to, jobs.' It’s been a journey of a lifetime to work on this show, with Charles, Kenny and Shaquille at the desk and alongside such an amazingly talented crew behind the scenes. I’m very blessed."

It was reported that Barkley specifically signed a 10-year extension in 2022, which would likely need to be breached or transferred if he were to move networks. 

Considering NBC hasn't broadcast NBA basketball since 2002, it could make sense for the company to strongly consider trying to transfer the Inside the NBA show onto its own network and streaming services.

With Inside the NBA's esteemed reputation and history of accolades, its future remains promising regardless of network shifts.

- About The Author: David Thompson
As an editor, writer, and podcast host, David is a key member of The Direct. He is an expert at covering topics like Marvel, DC, Star Wars, and business-related news following the box office and streaming.