Jared Greenberg Invites Fans Inside The Delightful Chaos Of ‘NBA CrunchTime’

For years NBA fans have expressed their desire to have something akin to NFL RedZone, where Scott Hanson famously spends seven hours every Sunday showing fans every score and significant play from across the league.

It’s a great idea in theory that is difficult to execute for a variety of reasons, none bigger than the frenetic pace of NBA games where there aren’t clear parameters to cut over to a game like in the NFL when a team gets deep in opposing territory. Despite that challenge and others, the league and Warner Bros. Discovery have been testing a format for the past few years that has now become NBA CrunchTime, a free-to-watch show on the NBA App (no League Pass required), where Jared Greenberg and Channing Frye dive in on Monday nights to take fans around the league on the busiest night of the schedule.

Greenberg has been part of the various iterations of CrunchTime going back to when it was an occasional part of the NBA TV lineup. Now having it be a regular part of the schedule on the app has allowed them to establish a rhythm with the broadcast, which he credits to those working in the production room to bounce around from game-to-game and ensure that they’re hitting on the most important moments from around the league — live as often as possible, but with highlight packages as needed.

“We really feel like we are in a great spot right now in our crew,” Greenberg says, “led by our producer Bert Bondi, our director, Alisa Deanes-Davis, and then our tape operator, Dan Eisner. He’s a wizard back in the tape room where he’s got all these different tape machines and he’s working with tape operators and they’re making sure we turn stuff around so if we’re not live on something and we see something in another game, literally within a matter of seconds, [we show it]. We feel like we are in a great spot and we’re delivering a product that nobody else is delivering on the NBA side and truly is a one of a kind of experience for the NBA consumer.”

It is controlled chaos on those Mondays where there are sometimes 10 games going on at once — or, in the case of the first Monday in November, 15 with every NBA team in action prior to Election Day — but that’s an environment that Greenberg adores. With Bondi in his ear, pointing him to what game they’re going to next, a Slack channel open on the computer in front of him with the whole CrunchTime team discussing what’s happening and what’s important to show, and then Frye alongside talking to the viewers about the game on the screen, there’s an awful lot of noise for Greenberg to work through, but it’s an environment he fully embraces because it’s not all that much different than how he’d spend his night anyway.

“I love it,” Greenberg says with a smile. “I don’t know whether it’s like my short attention span that I have that that plays to this. It’s also it’s also my passion for the game. If I were not hosting this show I would be like you, I’d be on my couch bouncing around 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 affords me the ability to do which is sometimes give you the information that I prep for. As you can imagine, the preparation is absolutely crazy for this show. I have so much information, not only in my head but in front of me on my notes. I have all these different websites that give me information about what’s happening at that moment, and how to use all that is is a little bit nutty sometimes. But I also don’t get too prideful and understand that I don’t need to convey to you every little bit of nugget or information that I have, if I could instead lay out and send you to an announcer who’s going to give you an emphatic hometown call of a potential buzzer beater.”

The nights where the games cooperate and come down to the wire with the result in question are the easy ones for Greenberg and the CrunchTime crew, because that’s the core of what they want to do: show games in crunch time when the outcome is in doubt. When those moments are in abundacnce, it can be hectic going back and forth, but the objective 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 in embracing all the various things that fans are going to find important, from individual performances to a gambling perspective.

“We are trying to deliver everything all at once to everybody without alienating anybody else,” Greenberg notes of the biggest challenge they face. “This is a show in this space for this sport that nobody’s ever done before. So for us, we want to run to, not away from, next level challenges. Whether it be technology, whether it be just new ways to watch, we’re gonna say ‘Alright, let’s try it.’ But we are very, very clear to ourselves. We have this conversation a lot to reiterate it and especially in my own head I reiterate it to myself a lot that the priority, first and foremost, is always going to be the game. We are going to let the game tell the story. If it is a tight game and we have the opportunity to show you that and talk about that, that’s going to be the story. If maybe the game is not as tight, well, then we start to look at other things. It could be players having crazy stat lines, or the gambling component, whether it be the line or the over/under.”

And some times that comes down to the multi-game box that NFL Redzone quickly became known for on the football side.

“Let’s not forget about the game here on the left that we’re showing you that’s coming down to the wire that we’re going to take you sound full and you’re gonna hear the announcers, but just just want to let you know that in city XYZ, this team just covered and the game went over,” Greenberg says. “Simple enough. Let’s go back to game number one, here’s the announcer. It’s little things like that, but we truly pride ourselves in staying true to who we are, which is CrunchTime. We’re going to give you as many other layers to that as possible. But first and foremost a priority has to be delivering close late games to the fans, and I pride myself and I say it a lot during the show. And it’s not just a cliche. I say it for the new viewer for the viewer to remind them. I say it to remind myself. I say it to remind our crew so it’s always hammered into our heads. Our mission statement each night is to take you to the biggest moments of the night as they’re happening live. If we have to abort that because the games don’t aren’t necessarily playing along, we’ll find other avenues to deliver you an entertaining show that the passionate basketball fans are gonna want to watch.”

A big part of that formula of creating an entertaining show each time on air is Channing Frye, as the former 14-year vet has the unique ability to toggle between having fun and providing analysis into what’s happening on the floor. That comes in handy on the fast-paced CrunchTime broadcast, and makes life considerably easier for Greenberg who can always lean on him to provide unique insight into play design or what the players are thinking — or at least should be thinking — in a crucial moment.

“I think as good as Channing is on the air when we’re on air and going back and forth about stuff, the craziest part is when I toss it out to an announcer to do the live call of whatever we’re watching, he doesn’t stop being an analyst or player mode,” Greenberg says. “Like he just keeps talking and like saying ‘No, why are you doing this!’ or ‘Yeah, find that, great pass,’ or ‘You gotta rotate.’ … His passion for the game is phenomenal. The coolest stuff is just to be able to sit there as if you were on your couch watching hoop and you’re watching these dudes watch basketball and you’re getting there as passionate as you are except he actually knows what he’s talking about when it comes down to the breaking down a play or like criticizing a player or coach. It’s such an awesome experience.”

As CrunchTime continues to grow, Greenberg says they have plenty of things they can try out and continue working on, but the most important thing for them is tailoring the product to what the fans want, working within the constraints they have. Broadcast rules limit them to five live cut-ins per game — up from three a year ago — and as such the production room has to pick and choose when to pop in live and when to do a highlight cutup to save a live look for later in the game. Still, they’re all about finding that balance between showing big plays, key moments like if a star goes down with an injury, spread 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 what they don’t — out of CrunchTime.

While we talked I mentioned how as someone whose job it is to keep an eye on everything going on, I love when they go double, triple, or quadbox showing live games, but Greenberg noted that, while on a TV that’s great, they 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 the pleas of NBA Twitter, and they want to tailor it to them with as much input as they can get from the viewing public.

“We think we have a fantastic product, but we we are humble enough to understand that we’re going to learn new viewer habits,” Greenberg says. “We’re going to utilize different ways for us to be at our best at all times. But the single biggest thing is we need hoopheads to know about this. I think that is the biggest thing is the awareness right now.

Greenberg offers a plea to the viewers themselves, the ones who clamored for it for so long.

“We need people to understand that they have exactly what NBA Twitter has been begging for, for literally a decade if not more,” he says. “And we need you guys to watch and give us feedback. We need that. We just need to continue to do it more and have more people know about it know that it’s an option for them. And the fact that it’s so convenient that no matter where they are in North America, if they have a phone they can watch and it’s totally free.”

While the show will continue on Mondays throughout the season, the league will take the week after Christmas to bring CrunchTime to air all five nights on the app (8:30 p.m. ET Monday-Thursday, and 9 p.m. ET Friday) as Nabil Karim, Sam Mitchell, Tim Doyle, and Greenberg will all take turns teaming up for whiparound action to close out 2022.