What, in the eyes of the man responsible for bringing us the British Basketball League on Sky Sports on (most) Friday evenings, are the ingredients that make compelling sporting television?

“Personalities,” Scott Melvin declares without hesitation. “Personalities.”

“Every sports show, certainly here, the high-profile ones, they’ve all got their own analysis tools and toys.

“But the more successful ones, certainly in America, are the ones which have the most popular, and most outspoken pundits.

“I wouldn’t say we’re catching up with them. I think we’re already there. But I definitely think that the personality of the pundit is what makes the headlines.”

And Melvin should know, having spent several years overseeing the reincarnation of Sky’s highly-regarded Monday Night Football from its Richard Keys and Andy Gray era to the tech-heavy, analysis-expanded époque of Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher.

DNA from which has been liberally injected into the rebirth of domestic hoops on the channels of his former employer, courtesy of Buzz16 Productions which he founded and co-owns.

Everything emerged through a casual chat, he reveals, with Newcastle Eagles supremo Paul Blake last summer. The BBL has been nomadic for years, popping up on ITV Digital, back to Sky, then through Setanta, Eurosport, Freesports and the BBC’s Red Button with supplementary showings via the likes of YouTube and Facebook and the now infamous BBLTV.

It has really been two decades since its weekend, 6pm, Sky Sports 3, slot represented a mark of broadcast stability. Melvin saw an opportunity to prise that door properly open once again with a reboot of the look and feel of the league.

Others were subsequently pitched an outline idea. “And thankfully, Sky were receptive,” he says. “But we knew the challenge was building up an audience that perhaps hadn’t been there for a while.

“There was a strong core fan base of the BBL. Outside of that, I think if you stopped 100 people in the street and said ‘name me a British basketball player’, I think that they’d struggle.

“So that was the challenge: getting people to recognise that it was still there. And it is good quality. And there are personalities there. And they have got a local team.

“All these things were kind of the driving force behind that – getting people to recognise what was on their doorstep. Because I don’t think they had up until this point.”

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During the first term of a two-year deal, audience figures have been around 30,000 per game, industry sources suggest, comparable with similar sports on Sky and above the average figures of the NBA.

BBL – with a splash of the WBBL on top – fits in with Sky’s strategy to broaden its audience base beyond the football lover.

Melvin, a Glaswegian whose father was once the sports editor of the Aberdeen Press and Journal, used to oversee a property whose rights alone cost £5 million for every single match. There are eggs in more baskets now at the satellite behemoth.

In this lockdown era, there are more eyeballs readily available but less live content than before. The BBL has value, and it potentially might bring in a younger audience. Where exactly it slots into the broader portfolio has not yet been fully cemented but there is a willingness from Sky, he signals, to build a partnership for the longer term.

Constructing a crew from scratch during Covid to bring it to life had its complications.

Normally, there are meetings and screen tests to judge if chemistry comes together. “I met Nat Coombs for the first time face-to-face at 10 o’clock in the morning, the day of Newcastle versus London on our first show,” Melvin reveals of his presenter.

Credibility was one key must-have at the very outset. Which is why Kieron Achara was quickly brought on board. “I think Dan Routledge and Anthony Rowe were obvious,” he adds of his commentary crew.

“You know, they work together all the time. We knew that was a partnership that would work well on screen. That was kind of that was the easy one.

“Mike Tuck’s done some punditry for Sky and some NBA. Drew Lasker has his podcast. So we knew these guys could talk. And we knew that they were good.

“But when you put people together for the first time, we’ve got no idea what’s going to work and what’s not going to work.”

Others inside the truck know their hoops, like Mick Brais, the redoubtable producer, who was a central part of the NBA on Sky Sports team during the Kevin Cadle era.

Creditably, the formula has hit the ground running, with a notable lack of cyber-crowing.

A work still in progress, Melvin cautions.

No doubt however, the up-front emphasis has shifted from tactics to characters in an attempt to suck in the unconverted. Slick and error-free, it feels like a big production even at a fraction of the cost of Sky’s prime assets. To its credit, it is no pale imitation of Inside the NBA or ESPN’s shows, merely a home-grown alternative.

Plus, an active social media side dish serves not just to big up the TV slot but to provide decent quality content to a league where – perhaps Bristol and Leicester apart – the Twitter / Insta game certainly needs to be raised.

Curiously, locking out fans has played into their hands, enabling producers to deploy some of the empty space with roving cameras that have offered a different view of the action.

Those will be unplugged from the mix once the seats fill up once again. “So we’ve almost got to start again in season two, which is a nice problem to have,” he concedes.

Then again, the protocols which limit access will also vanish. Opening up the possibilities for locker room filming, in-game reporting, and innovations as yet not fully formed.

“Because,” Melvin adds, “we get our piece of paper and say: ‘right, this is all the stuff that worked. This is all the stuff that didn’t work. What do we keep? What do we try again? Let’s speak to the clubs to find out what they want to do.’

“Because I think the clubs have got some good ideas about how they can give us more. But we know the things that we want to keep doing.

“And really like any sport, the closer you get to the team, and the closer you get to the players, that’s what people want to see.”

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