Last season's thrilling Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour featured unforgettable performances in major championships that represented the best bowling has to offer. The groundbreaking 2010-11 PBA Tour season, which makes its debut on ESPN on Sunday, Nov. 28, promises to build on those major highlights with plenty of compelling innovations.
The PBA's 52nd season includes 21 original telecasts, beginning with the second annual PBA World Series of Bowling. Several firsts, such as live multi-day coverage for two major championships (PBA World Championship and U.S. Open) and the inaugural PBA Playoffs series to conclude the season, are helping the PBA redefine bowling on television in 2010-11.
The signature event of the upcoming TV season is the PBA’s return to ABC Sports after 14 years on Saturday, Jan. 22, for the live finals of the record-setting $1 million PBA Tournament of Champions (TOC). The Tournament of Champions telecast, which will award the richest prize ($250,000) in pro bowling history, also will be the first PBA finals aired in high-definition.
“Our TV season is built around capturing and delivering the drama of our major
championships which shape the history of our sport,” said PBA CEO and
Commissioner Fred Schreyer with a nod towards last season's most significant
events and their notable champions, namely:
“● The storybook finish of laid off autoworker Tom Smallwood capturing the PBA World Championship.
“● The historic first-ever win by a woman registered by Kelly Kulick at the PBA Tournament of Champions .
”● The latest addition to the legendary career of 50-year-old all-time titlist
Walter Ray Williams Jr. at the USBC Masters.
“● The glimpse into the future provided by Tour young gun Bill O'Neill at the
Lumber Liquidators U.S. Open.
"ESPN and ABC are once again going to be an important part of the PBA's growing history,” Schreyer said. The PBA previously aired on ABC for 36 straight years until 1997, and has been a staple on ESPN since the network's inception in 1979. ESPN also has announced a new three-year extension of its PBA coverage through 2013.
Returning as the PBA’s broadcast team will be play-by-play announcer Rob Stone and color analyst Randy Pedersen, a 13-time titlist on the PBA Tour. This season will be Stone’s fourth and Pedersen’s ninth in the broadcast booth. Every finals telecast (except the PBA Playoffs) will employ a stepladder elimination format. Each live event will bring the fans closer to the action with interaction via Facebook, plus “PBA Talk Back” technology which allows glimpses into the players’ minds in the heat of competition.
“PBA players throughout history have consistently delivered compelling
storylines and our television formats produce countless pressure-filled shots
every show," said PBA COO and Deputy Commissioner Tom Clark. "This season's television production will build anticipation for those moments that set bowling apart from any sport by presenting the true personalities of the best players in the world and capturing every nuance of the shots that will define their careers."
Action on the lanes will begin with a 14-day World Series of Bowling (WSOB) and PBA World Championship at South Point Casino in Las Vegas, Nev., Oct. 25-Nov. 6. The multi-stage World Series and its deep field of 256 PBA members and international stars, will culminate with five separate five-man stepladder finals on Nov. 5 and 6, taped for delayed telecast on ESPN. The Cheetah, Viper, Chameleon, Scorpion and Shark Championships (representing each of the PBA's primary lane oil patterns) will air on five consecutive Sundays at 1 p.m. Eastern on ESPN, starting Nov. 28. Also, a unique “USA vs. The World” team competition will be the final taped telecast from the WSOB and air Sunday, Jan. 9, also at 1 p.m. Eastern.
The “live” portion of the television season gets underway Jan. 14-16 when the
top eight PBA World Championship qualifiers – based upon 60-game totals on the five PBA oil patterns contested during the qualifying rounds of the World Series – return to South Point for three days of live television coverage. The eight finalists will be placed into an eight-player stepladder, with the seventh and eighth seeds meeting in the first match and the winner facing the sixth seed on Friday night's hour-long show. Saturday's one-hour telecast will find Friday's survivor facing the fifth seed, with that winner taking on No. 4. The PBA World Championship will conclude on Sunday, Jan. 16, with a four-player stepladder finale.
Following the PBA World Championship, all PBA regional, senior, Women’s Series and National Tour champions in PBA history are eligible to gather at Red Rock Lanes on the north side of Las Vegas for the historic $1 million PBA Tournament of Champions beginning Jan. 16, and culminating with the four-player stepladder finals televised live Saturday, Jan. 22, on ABC at 2:30 p.m. Eastern.
After the TOC, the PBA exempt Tour players head to Northern California for the One A Day Earl Anthony Memorial at Earl Anthony’s Dublin Bowl in Dublin, CA, beginning Jan. 24 and featuring a five-player stepladder final on Sunday, Jan. 30, on ESPN2.
The season's third major championship is back in Nevada, as the USBC Masters conducted by the National Governing Body will bring a field of amateurs and professionals together in the spacious National Bowling Stadium beginning Feb. 6. The USBC Masters’ four-player stepladder finals will air live on Sunday, Feb. 13.
In between the live events, the third annual Chris Paul PBA Celebrity Invitational, named after the NBA star and avid bowler and benefitting his CP3
Foundation, will air on "Super Bowl Sunday," Feb. 6 on ESPN. In addition to
Paul, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Ludacris and Hines Ward have participated in the event the past two seasons, matched up with PBA Tour stars in a doubles competition.
The PBA next travels across the country for the season’s fourth major
championship, the 68th Lumber Liquidators U.S. Open, at Brunswick Zone Carolier in North Brunswick, NJ, Feb. 22-27. The U.S. Open, which features the most demanding lane conditions in bowling, will be the second event featuring three days of live TV coverage leading to the championship on ESPN on Feb. 27. Unlike the PBA World Championship's extended stepladder presentation however, the U.S. Open will feature coverage of the traditional match play rounds on Friday, Feb. 25, and Saturday, Feb. 26, leading into Sunday's four-player stepladder final.
"We are particularly excited to bring the match play rounds of the U.S. Open to
a national audience," Clark said. "Never before has the 'position round' been
seen on TV, and anyone who has witnessed one live knows the TV audience is in for a treat. Something unpredictable will happen that night that fans have never seen before, and will be talking about long after."
The third edition of the GEICO Mark Roth Plastic Ball Championship follows the U.S. Open, March 1-6, at AMF Thruway Lanes in Cheektowaga, NY. This exempt Tour event finds all of the players using identical limited-technology bowling balls, this season emblazoned with the logos of the top national charities under The Bowling Foundation's umbrella.
The TV season will conclude with another new addition, the Dick Weber PBA
Playoffs, March 8-14 at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis. PBA Playoffs qualifying is already underway in PBA Regional competition and will feature not only the top 72 players who earn seeds through performance on the National Tour, but qualifiers from Regional play that will lead to two televised bracketed regional championship rounds and an eliminator TV round. Those three 90-minute telecasts will be taped on March 14 for delayed airing on ESPN beginning Sunday, March 27, and the live bracketed finals is April 17 on ESPN, also from Woodland Bowl.