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Sunday, April 21, 2024
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WBD Touts Charles Barkley-Gayle King CNN Show At Upfront

  • Warner Brothers makes bet on Inside the NBA star and CBS anchor to help sagging CNN ratings.
  • This week, WBD Sports had reported second layoff since November.
Charles Barkley
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK – Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless showcase themselves as the most important personalities in sports media. But Charles Barkley actually is.

Warner Bros. Discovery was smart to lean into all things Sir Charles during its upfront presentation to advertisers on Wednesday.

The $43 billion media giant heavily touted the launch of Barkley’s CNN weekly show with “CBS Mornings” anchor Gayle King this fall.

Amid tumbling TV ratings, CNN needs a hit. 

The new prime weekly show – dubbed “King Charles” –  will allow Barkley to expand beyond sports and weigh in on other topics. 

Barkley, who will continue his award-winning run as star of TNT’s “Inside the NBA,” has said he will talk politics on his new show. But the show will not be political.

His TNT colleagues appeared on video to joke about names for the new show.

“Lady and the Tramp?” quipped host Ernie Johnson Jr. “Gail force…hot air?”

“Yeah, that’s nice. I like that,” agreed Shaquille O’Neal.

Luis Silberwasser, chairman and chief executive officer of Warner Bros. Discovery Sports, said he’s excited for “King Charles” debut later this year. 

“You can always expect the unexpected with those two,” he said.

The 60-year-old Barkley flirted with a move to renegade golf league LIV Sports. But last summer, he signed a new deal with TNT that should keep him on the network for the rest of his career.

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In other sports programming news from the WBD upfront: 

  • Warner Bros. Discovery Sports is drawing its biggest TV audiences for NBA Playoffs in nine years, according to Silberwasser. That’s important with Warner Bros. Discovery Sports gearing up to defend its decades-long relationship with the NBA in billion-dollar media rights talks.
  • The NHL’s Stanley Cup Finals will air exclusively on TNT this June. It’s the first time outside of the NCAA “March Madness” tournament the former Turner Sports’ TNT/TBS cable TV channels have aired one of the major sports championships. 
  • TNT will add a second night of pro wrestling to its schedule with a new series called “AEW Collision.” The show will debut on June 17. The live two-hour program will air Saturday nights from 8-10 pm ET.

With the economy faltering, WBD Sports laid off dozens of employees this week, according to Business Insider.

It’s the second downsizing in recent months for WBD Sports. The division laid off roughly 10% of its workforce in November, according to Awful Announcing.

WBD Sports declined to comment on layoffs.

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