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YES Network Tips Off 20th Season of Brooklyn Nets Coverage

Ian Eagle and Sarah Kustok became first broadcast team to sweep New York Emmys in the same year

When the 2021-22 NBA season tips off next week, it will launch the 20th season for YES Network as the home of the Brooklyn Nets.

Beginning with Brooklyn’s road game at Philadelphia on Friday, Oct. 22, YES will televise 70 regular season Nets games. For the nationally televised season opener in Milwaukee on Tuesday, Oct. 19, YES will have both pregame and postgame shows around the TNT broadcast.

Last season featured a jump of 76 percent in total viewers per game for Nets on YES, along with the launch of the YES app featuring the Nets and all of the network’s programming for view on all connected devices from mobile to tablets and direct to the big screen.

The YES lineup again features Ian Eagle and Ryan Ruocco on play-by-play, analysts Sarah Kustok and Richard Jefferson, and courtside reporter Michael Grady, plus studio hosts Bob Lorenz, Nancy Newman, and Chris Shearn and studio analyst Frank Isola.

Eagle, Kustok, and Ruocco are all New York Emmy winners, with Eagle and Kustok last year becoming the first broadcast team to win play-by-play and analysts Emmys in New York in the same year.

Their season tip-off in Philadelphia will represent a return to the road for the YES crew after calling road games remotely from Barclays Center last season in response to the COVID crisis. For the 2021-22 season, they’ll be back on-site in arenas throughout the NBA.

“It’s night and day sitting there courtside and the observations you can make, the energy you feel,” said Ruocco. “Sort of, and this is more for Ian and me and Michael for play-by-play, but having your voice match the cadence of the crowd. It becomes a submersive experience with the energy of the crowd that you can only really be aware of it you’re in the arena.”

“We are just trying to do the best possible job we can and put together the best possible broadcast that we can to complement what we’re seeing from the team and I think you all know — we call it our Nets on YES family — how much we care about each other and are passionate about putting together the best broadcast we can and I think whether it’s being courtside or being on the road or being around the team, it helps to facilitate that,” said Kustok.

This also marks the 10th season for the franchise in Brooklyn. Eagle, who began broadcasting Nets games on radio in 1994 before moving over to the TV side a year later, has watched the rise of the team as it built its roots in the borough, a project that took a huge step this past summer when Kevin Durant signed a contract extension with the team.

“From my perspective, everything has been trending up,” said Eagle. “The move to Brooklyn was a mystery to many of us that were holdovers from New Jersey because we had no idea how the team would be embraced and each year we’ve seen this buildup of interest and now this 10-year period, you’re talking about a generation potentially of fans. Kids that were five, six, seven years old that are now 15, 16, 17 and have basketball opinions and have formed a passion for this team. And I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it being around the arena. Obviously, last year was such an aberration based on the fact that there weren’t fans for the majority of the season. But in the playoffs, and just even in the preseason game the other night, it’s real. The enthusiasm is real.”

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