I Regret To Inform You ESPN’s Halftime Show Is At It Again

ESPN has long struggled to figure out its studio show setup, as they’ve lagged behind the incomparable Inside the NBA in that space. However, for all the hand-wringing about who they put on their NBA studio show desk, which has been a revolving door for years, the biggest issue is the way they structure their shows.

Where TNT has excelled by creating as much space for the Inside guys to have conversations and actually get into it — whether that’s basketball conversation or whatever tangent Chuck or Shaq lead them down — ESPN has gone the opposite direction. Their show is far more rigid in going from topic to topic, creating a stiffness that stands in stark contrast to the TNT production.

Their halftime show is the worst offender in this space, especially in the Finals, as ESPN and ABC seem determined to fit as many commercials and sponsored segments into a 15-minute space as humanly possible. It has long followed the same structure (I wrote this two years ago) that provides the talent with approximately three actual minutes of halftime show to try and vomit out their first half takes as quickly as possible.

During Game 1 of the 2024 Finals, with Boston blowing the Mavs out by 21 at the half, ESPN seemingly went for a new record as they went from one commercial break to another in 22 seconds, with Malika Andrews and guest analyst Josh Hart looking at the “Kia Halftime Highlights,” which was one (1) slow-motion replay of Kristaps Porzingis block before throwing it right back to commercial break.

I fully understand the NBA Finals are big for business, and ESPN is about to shell out $2.5 billion per year to keep them. However, at some point this has to change. Again, this isn’t a talent issue, or even a production issue at the level of the people in the truck. This is at the very top where they’re making the decision that they are not going to allot any time for a halftime show to actually have space to talk about the game, which is a shame in the biggest games the sport has to offer.

If nothing else, it’d be more honest to not even bother and just run commercials for 15 minutes straight.