"We will have mikes on referees at all games," David Neal, head of production for NBA on NBC, said Tuesday. "Just looking at tape of last season, some of the best exchanges we got came via the microphones on the referees." NBC miked referees only on games of the week last season. Coaches will have the option of wearing a mike, Neal said. NBC will use boom mikes near benches to pick up sound during timeouts.
NBC's season coverage opens Dec. 25 with a doubleheader. The network is heading into the third year of a four-year, $1.75 billion rights deal with the league. Ratings dropped 21% during the 1999-00 regular season, from a 4.3 average to a 3.4 (each rating point represents a little more than 1 million TV homes).