For years, NBA fans have expressed a desire to have something similar NFL Red Zonewhere Scott Hanson spends seven hours every Sunday showing fans every score and key play from around the league.
It’s a great idea in theory that’s hard to execute for a variety of reasons, no greater than the frantic pace of NBA games where there are no clear parameters for switching to a game like in the NFL when a team is deep in the battle touches territory. Despite those and other challenges, in recent years the league has been testing a format that has now become NBA Crunch Timea free-to-watch show on the NBA app (no League Pass required), where Jared Greenberg and Channing Frye dive in on Monday nights to show fans around the league on the busiest night of the schedule.
Greenberg has been part of several iterations of Snack time going back to when it was an occasional part of the NBA TV lineup. Now that it’s become a regular part of the schedule in the app, they’ve been able to establish a rhythm with the broadcast, which he credits to those who work in the production room bouncing from game to game and making sure they hitting the most important moments from around the league – live as often as possible, but with highlight packs when needed.
“We really feel like we’re in a great place on our crew right now,” says Greenberg, “led by our producer Bert Bondi, our director, Alisa Deanes-Davis, and then our tape operator, Dan Eisner He’s a wizard in the tape room where he has all these different tape machines and he works with tape operators and they make us turn things around so if we’re not on something live and we see something in another game literally within seconds, [we show it]. We feel like we’re in a great place and we’re delivering a product that no one else is delivering on the NBA side and it’s really a unique experience for the NBA consumer.
It’s controlled chaos on those Mondays that sometimes see 10 games played at once — or, in the case of the first Monday in November, 15 with every NBA team in action ahead of Election Day — but that’s an environment Greenberg loves. is. With Bondi in his ear, pointing him to the next game, a Slack channel on the computer opens for him with the whole Snack time team discussing what’s happening and what’s important to show and then Frye in addition to talking to the viewers about the game on screen there’s an awful lot of noise for Greenberg to work through but it’s an environment that he fully embraces it because it’s not that much different than how he would spend his night anyway.
“I love it,” says Greenberg with a smile. “I don’t know if it’s my short attention span that I have that plays a part in this. It is also my passion for the game. If I wasn’t hosting this show I’d be like you, I’d be bouncing on my couch on League Pass from game to game to game, so for me this is just watching League Pass on steroids. And I love what this show gives me the opportunity to do, which sometimes gives you the information that I prepare for. As you can imagine, the preparation is totally crazy for this show. I have so much information, not just in my head but in front of me in my notes. I have all these different websites that give me information about what’s happening at the moment, and how to use it all is a bit crazy sometimes. But I also don’t get too proud and understand that I don’t have to convey to you every little piece of information or information that I have if I could instead lay you down and send you to an announcer who gives you an emphatic hometown call from a potential buzzer knocker.
The nights when the games work together and get to the point with the result in question are the easy ones for Greenberg and the Snack time crew, because that’s the core of what they want to do: show games in times of crisis when the outcome is in doubt. When those moments abound, going back and forth can be hectic, but the goal is clear.
It’s when the outcome of who wins and who loses isn’t in question for much of the slate that requires some creativity on the part of Greenberg and Frye, but it’s also something they pride themselves on doing all the different things embrace what fans care about, from individual performance to betting perspective.
“We try to deliver everything to everyone at once without alienating anyone else,” Greenberg notes of the biggest challenge they face. “This is a show in this space for this sport that has never been done by anyone before. So for us, we want to run towards, not away from, next level challenges. Whether it’s technology, or just new ways of seeing, we’re going to say, ‘Okay, let’s try it.’ But we are very, very clear to ourselves. We often have this conversation to repeat and especially in my own head I often repeat to myself that the priority will always be the game in the first place. We’re going to let the game tell the story. If it’s a tight game and we have the opportunity to show you that and talk about it, then that’s the story. If maybe the game isn’t that tight, well, then we’re going to look at other things. It could be players with crazy stat lines, or the betting component, be it the line or the over/under.
And sometimes that comes down to the multi-game box that NFL Red Zone quickly became known for on the football side.
“Let’s not forget the game here on the left that we’re showing you that it’s about to go full blast you and you’re going to hear the announcers but I just want to let you know that in city XYZ this team just was covered and the game was over,” Greenberg says. “Simply enough. Let’s go back to game number one, here’s the announcer. It’s little things like that, but we really pride ourselves on staying true to who we are, which is CrunchTime. We’re going to give you as many other layers to that as we can. But first and foremost, a priority has to be getting the fans to play up close, and I’m proud of myself and I say it a lot on the show. And it’s not just a cliché. I say it for the new viewer so that the viewer will remind them. I say it to remind myself. I say it to remind our crew so that it is always hammered into our heads. Our mission every night is to take you to the biggest moments of the night as they happen live. If we have to break that down because the games aren’t necessarily playing along, we’ll find other ways to bring you an entertaining show that the passionate basketball fans want to watch.”
A big part of that formula for creating an entertaining show every time on the air is Channing Frye, as the former 14-year-old vet has the unique ability to switch between having fun and providing analysis of what’s happening on the floor. That comes in handy on the fast Snack time aired, and makes life significantly easier for Greenberg, who can always lean on him to provide unique insight into game design or what the players are thinking – or at least should be thinking – at a crucial moment.
“I think as good as Channing is on the air when we’re on the air and going back and forth about things, the craziest thing is when I pitch it to an announcer to make the live call of whatever we’re watching, he likes not be on an analyst or player mode,” Greenberg says, “as if he just keeps talking and likes to say ‘No, why are you doing this!’ or “Yeah, love that, great pass” or “You should rotate.” … His passion for the game is phenomenal the coolest thing is just being able to sit there like you’re on your couch watching basketball and you watch these guys watch basketball and you get there just as passionate as you are except he’s really knows what he’s talking about when it comes to breaking down a play or criticizing a player or coach. It’s such a great experience.”
As Snack time continues to grow, Greenberg says they have plenty of things to try and keep working on, but the most important thing for them is to tailor the product to what the fans want, working within the constraints they have. Broadcast rules limit them to five live cuts per game – up from three a year ago – and as such the production room has to choose when to come in live and when to do a highlight cut to save a live look for later in the game. Still, they’re all about striking that balance between showing big plays, key moments like when a star goes down with an injury, spreading and total drama in the gambling world, and of course the closing minutes of a close game. And the process starts with figuring out what fans want and don’t want Snack time.
As we were talking I mentioned how, as someone whose job it is to keep an eye on everything, I love it when they show double, triple or quadbox live games, but Greenberg noted that while they being on a great TV know it can be a bit overwhelming for those watching on the phone. As such, they want fans to tune in and provide as much feedback as possible, because this is a show born out of NBA Twitter’s pleas, and they want to tailor it to them with as much input they can get from the viewing experience. public.
“We think we have a great product, but we’re humble enough to understand that we’re going to learn new viewing habits,” says Greenberg. “We are going to use different ways to be at our best at all times. But most importantly, we need hoopheads to know about this. I think that’s the most important thing, the awareness right now.
Greenberg makes a case for the viewers themselves, the ones who have been calling for it for so long.
“We need people to understand that they have exactly what NBA Twitter has begged for, literally a decade, if not more,” he says. “And we need you to watch and give us feedback. We need that. We just need to keep doing it more and let more people know it’s an option for them. And the fact that it’s so convenient that wherever they are in North America, if they have a phone, they can watch and it’s completely free.”
While the show will run on Mondays throughout the season, the competition will take up the week after Christmas Snack time airing all five nights on the app (8:30pm ET Monday-Thursday and 9pm ET Friday) as Nabil Karim, Sam Mitchell, Tim Doyle, and Greenberg will take turns teaming up for whiplash to close out 2022.