The Harlem Globetrotters are returning to network TV for the first time in more than 40 years.
The world-famous exhibition basketball team known for its spectacular ball handling and humorous antics will appear in a weekly show called “Harlem Globetrotters: Play it Forward” on NBC.
The show, which debuts Oct. 1, will be hosted by Craig Robinson of “The Office.” It will showcase the players’ talents and their connections to local communities, including volunteer initiatives and fundraising. The Globetrotters also previously participated in efforts such as anti-bullying campaign T.E.A.M. Up and Hoops for the Troops.
“Many of us grew up watching and admiring the Globetrotters,” said Frank Biancuzzo, president of Hearst Media Production Group, which is partnering with the team to produce the show. “They are magicians on the basketball court and true role models in the community. We’ll bring that compassion, energy and excitement to the new weekly series.”
Each episode will focus on team members’ inspirations and interests, including space exploration with NASA, financial responsibility and literacy, urban farming, and female empowerment.
The move back to television is a way for the Harlem Globetrotters to expand their reach with a new generation of fans, said Keith Dawkins, president of the Harlem Globetrotters.
Previously, the Harlem Globetrotters appeared in a Saturday morning cartoon produced by Hanna-Barbera and CBS, which featured animated versions of players from the basketball team. The show aired from 1970 to 1971 and followed a weekly formula where the team would travel to try and help settle local issues over a basketball game.
Typically, the opposing team would do something to rig the contest, but the Globetrotters would find a away to even the odds and win the game. The formula was repeated for “The Super Globetrotters,” a 1979 animated series from Hanna-Barbera that aired on NBC.
The team also appeared in a live-action Saturday morning variety show in the 1970s called “The Harlem Globetrotters Popcorn Machine,” which showcased the characters’ skills through comedy skits and educational segments.
The new 30-minute show will be live-action and air on Saturdays at 11 a.m. ET during NBC’s “The More You Know” programming block.
Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC.