A photo of FanDuel TV's "Run It Back." A photo of FanDuel TV’s “Run It Back.” (FanDuel TV.)

FanDuel TV NBA show Run It Back has seen remarkable growth in its second season. Its cable viewership is up 122 percent versus the same timeslot on TVG two years ago (before that channel’s rebranding to FanDuel TV), and its over-the-top viewership is up 80 percent over its first season.

Run It Back executive producer (and FanDuel TV’s director of sports programming and content) Jason Cahill recently spoke to AA on Run It Back. There, he said one key to this year’s particular success has been the extra amount of shows where all of the cast (Michelle Beadle, Shams Charania, Chandler Parsons, and Lou Williams) have all been in FanDuel TV’s California studios. Cahill said that’s been key to further enhancing the chemistry that differentiates the show.

“If you watched the show in the first season, when FanDuel TV first came on the air, we had sort of imagined Run It Back as a Zoom show. We had Michelle Beadle, we had Shams, we had Chandler, and they’re all in different places. At that point, Michelle was in Texas, Shams was in Chicago, and Chandler was here in in California. But we just imagined it as a Zoom show.

“And as we saw their chemistry build in that first season, we realized that come playoff time, we wanted to bring them into our brand-new studio and our FanDuel TV facilities. So we started doing a lot more in-studio shows.”

He said those increased in-studio shows paid quick dividends on the chemistry side.

“Once that happened, we really saw, ‘Hey, we’ve really got something here, right? This is really working. Their chemistry is clicking. We seem to be gaining a lot of traction on social media, where NBA fans are very, very vocal and very, very active.’ And so that was super, super encouraging for us.

“And so in between season one and season two, we sort of sat down and decided, ‘Okay, we need to make this show more in the studio than it was in season one.’ Yeah, we still have weeks where everybody’s on remote due to schedules, but that chemistry that had developed in season one, we wanted to build on that for season two, bring them into the studio.”

Cahill said he thinks the other vital contribution to the year-over-year success has come from the addition of Williams.

“We wanted to add another former player to the mix, and so Lou Williams came on board. And once Lou joined the show, we really hit our stride and it’s been fantastic ever since.”

Cahill said the addition of Williams came not from seeing what he’d done on TV elsewhere, but from hearing him as a podcast guest.

“We knew we wanted to add another player to the mix, but we didn’t know who,” he said. “Lou had just retired from the game, he hadn’t done a lot of TV, a lot of media, but he’d done podcasts. So I remember, I was driving home one day and I was listening to, I think it was All The Smoke, but it was him on the podcast.

“And it was like five to 10 minutes in and I was like, ‘Oh man, he is so great. He’s so loose. He’s got such a unique point of view. He’s engaging.’ Like, everything that you would really want from a former player who is about to sort of join the media world, but he hadn’t yet really done TV.

“So we reached out to him, and it was something that he was interested in doing. And I remember he and Chandler had an early conversation, this is before season two even started, and we all just knew, we all knew this is going to be great, this is going to work.”

Cahill said Williams’ addition is one of the smoothest he’s ever seen, which is significant considering his past work on everything from The Best Damn Sports Show Period to Crowd Goes WildFox Sports LiveFair Game with Kristine Leahy, and more.

“I’ve been doing this a long time, and you know this as well, it’s difficult when you add a new cast member to a show that’s already existed for a season, right?” Cahill said. “Adding Lou to a team of Shams and Michelle and Chandler that had already been doing the show for a year, it’s tough sometimes to develop that chemistry.

“But I think with Lou, I think the the word I used at the beginning was effortless: it was such a natural fit. And he developed chemistry with Chandler and Beadle and Shams so, so easily.

“And so we knew like, week one, week two of season two, he had just joined the show, I remember we just all looked at each other in the control room, we were like ‘This is it, we got it. This is the perfect mix for this show.’ So yeah, we were thrilled, and he’s been fantastic.”

One unconventional piece with Run It Back is Charania, who’s largely been known for his work as a NBA insider. While most insiders do have TV roles these days, they’re not always featured consistently throughout a studio show the way Charania is. Cahill said he thinks Charania helps them stand out, and helps their cast quickly react to news.

“I think, honestly, Shams’s inclusion on this show is what makes us unique. He is the top NBA insider, and he’s got information that nobody else has. And when he tells us something on the show, it enables Lou and Chandler and Beadle to give a quick organic and natural reaction. And I think that’s what he can provide. He can give us context that nobody else can.”

Cahill said that news and reaction approach differentiates Run It Back from other NBA shows.

“It really is what makes this show unique. I think Shams has been fantastic. You see insiders, NFL insiders, NBA insiders, doing television, and I think the transition from insider to media personality has been natural for Shams, I think he’s embraced it.

“And I think he’s really mixed well with Beadle and Lou and Chandler. It’s been great to see. I know he’s having fun doing it for. It’s great for us as well because I really do think it’s what separates this show from the handful of others that that are out there as well.”

Cahill came over to FanDuel TV in October 2019, back when it was still TVG. He said he had been looking for a way to get into producing more sports betting content, and he was eager to be part of a massive network rebrand like the TVG to FanDuel TV one (which they announced in August 2022).

“When this opportunity came along, I’ve always wanted to get in the sports betting space, I saw that as sort of a rocket ship that was about to take off at that point. And so when I had my first conversation with somebody over here, and it was still TVG at that time.

“And the first conversation I had, there was mention of ‘Hey, years down the line, we’re envisioning FanDuel and this network that is a sports betting network, it has sports programming in the morning, it has racing throughout the rest of the day.’ That was the notion.”

Cahill said the chance to be part of that was thrilling.

“It was just so exciting to me. I’ve been on the ground floor of shows and helped launch shows, Best Damn Sports Show, Crowd Goes Wild, I’ve done that, but I’d never been in the room helping to launch a network. For me, that was so, so exciting.”

He said he’s loved working at FanDuel, and is glad he made that move to join them in 2019.

“That was almost five years ago, and it really is the best move I’ve ever made. It’s been wonderful. I’m just so happy here. And I think that what we’ve done on FanDuel TV on this network over the past two seasons has been just groundbreaking and really fantastic.”

Cahill said it was always important for the rebranded FanDuel TV to have a NBA-centric show.

“The NBA is obviously a very, very popular sport in terms of fans engaging with the sport on social media. NBA Twitter is such a big thing and you know NBA fans are so, so vocal, having conversations, during games, after games, it’s really just crazy.

“And so we knew when FanDuel TV launched, obviously, we’ve got Kay Adams and Kay is doing an NFL show and the NFL is an enormously popular sport, but we also knew we wanted an NBA show, because the NBA is an enormously popular sport and we have a fantastic partnership with the NBA. So having an NFL show, having an NBA show, those were kind of no-brainers for us.”

Cahill said the only debate was what kind of show Run It Back would be, but he said the focus they chose on creating content that could resonate with NBA fans on social media was the right approach.

“At the time it was just ‘What kind of show do we want to do?’ I think the thought was ‘Well, let’s try and do the most entertaining NBA show possible.’ One that you know, certainly touches on sports betting. But I think the priority for us is just we want to make this an entertaining NBA show, one that NBA fans, who, again, are very vocal and very active on social media, are going to enjoy.”

He said that went into who they hired, too.

“It was with that in mind that we created Run It Back, when it comes to the talent that we hired for that show. Michelle Beadle was an absolute no-brainer, I don’t think we ever considered anybody else to host that show; the best NBA host ever. We knew we wanted to work with Michelle. AndShams was already a FanDuel partner, and so adding him to the mix made a lot of sense.

“And then Chandler Parsons at that point had been retired from the league for a couple of seasons and had been doing media and we saw and liked everything that he was doing. He’s a bit of a wild card for us, right? You never know what Chandler’s going to say, and that’s the great thing. That’s what we want. And and now that we’ve added Lou, we feel like we’ve got the Dream Team.”

Cahill said he thinks the audience numbers vindicate what they’re doing.

“We’re very, very encouraged by everything that we’re seeing. Season two versus season one, the year over year increases just for Run It Back have been tremendously encouraging. And it tells us that we’re on to something. We’re doing something right, we’re doing something that is resonating with NBA fans, and that was our goal.”

He said that impact is also shown when their clips take off on social media, which was a key goal for them in addition to those overall viewership numbers.

“We wanted to create a program that is going to resonate with NBA fans, that is going to feature segments and conversations and sound bites and guest interactions that eventually do become a part of that NBA news cycle.”

Cahill said that has a lot of benefits for establishing their show and gaining future fans.

“For us, that’s the win, right? Something happens on our show that goes far and wide and and has NBA fans, NBA observers talking for the rest of the day. That for us is the big win.”

He said the combination of overall audience and social traction backs up what they’re doing.

“The numbers that we’re seeing, we couldn’t be happier, they’re super, super encouraging for us. And it just tells us, ‘Hey, we have something, we’re doing something really right here.'”

Run It Back airs Mondays through Fridays on FanDuel TV and FanDuel TV+ beginning at 10 a.m. Eastern.

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.