Charles Barkley is an exceedingly well-liked sports personality. It's pretty shocking when you consider the day and age we live in that few who have seen Barkley work on TV have a bad word to say about him. Yeah, his old-head "back in my day" NBA takes can get tired. But whether he's on Inside The NBA or working March Madness or even popping up during a Stanley Cup Final intermission, producers can sit back knowing Barkley will entertain without a hitch and viewers, for the most part, are guaranteed an enjoyable show.
But recent happenings in the media landscape have us wondering. Has Charles Barkley become overrated?
Those who regularly read the site know we sing Barkley's praises regularly. His ability to flawlessly slide into various Turner studios is extremely valuable and he is, of course, a key component of Inside The NBA, widely viewed as the gold standard for studio shows in any sport. In short, he's really good at his job. Maybe the best, for that particular realm of only in-studio analysis.
However, the talk surrounding Barkley's value in light of the news that he's to meet with LIV has gotten a little out of hand. Barkley is the highest-profile American media member to flirt with LIV, so it's naturally a big talking point in these doldrums of summer. Due to the way LIV has operated, it feels inevitable Barkley is going to get a very large offer from LIV to join its broadcast and help further popularize their product.
But some of the discussion about that payday and Barkley's value is getting over the top. Dan Patrick spurred the conversation today when he reported on his eponymous show that Barkley would have to leave his TNT job if he wanted to go to LIV. In the same breath, Patrick called Barkley, "the most valuable voice in sports media."
I mean ... is he, though? Is he really? Barkley is great in the NBA realm and useful in others, which puts him above most of his one-sport counterparts. People like him and he's good for a viral moment or two every time he's on-screen. It's just hard to sell the idea that he's more valuable than any of his counterparts in media, hard stop, because his best work doesn't come during a game or match. You know, when the most eyes are watching. It comes before or afterwards. And there will always be a cap on how valuable a person who thrives in that area can be.
Not to mention, Barkley's value lies more in the realm of being funny and making the broadcast enjoyable as opposed to his sporting expertise. Inside The NBA had an entire segment where Barkley, a former NBA player who is paid to analyze the NBA, had to guess which players were on which team. He was wrong pretty often, too. LIV wouldn't be paying Barkley big bucks because he can tell us why Bryson DeChambeau missed a five-footer.
Is Barkley's brand that valuable? I don't think so. I don't think it's even close. It's almost impossible to inspire viewers to tune into a sports broadcast due to the media personalities commentating on it. People watch sports because of the on-field product. The implication with all this Barkley talk is that LIV could increase its viewership by paying him, yet there's very little to suggest that's actually true. Because nobody has that kind of draw in the sports media world.
Barkley is great for what he is. But at this point he's overrated. He's valuable but not irreplaceable, even at his own company. If LIV thinks paying him an eight or nine-digit salary is going to catapult their viewership into the stratosphere, the company is going to be very disappointed.