Picture it this way: You are sitting at home, checking out Twitter on your phone when you see a highlight of Blake Griffin throwing down a monster dunk against the Thunder. You think “I should be watching that game.”
Now, in just a couple taps of the screen, you can. The NBA is announcing on Friday they are making it even easier to watch individual NBA games through social media links.
At the bottom of that official NBA tweet of the dunk (or the Facebook post) there will be a “watch” link that will jump you to the game page of the NBA app, where with just a couple taps you can buy just that contest on live stream for your phone or tablet and start watching immediately (for $6.99 per game, or if you are already a subscriber you can just log in).
“We’ve spent a lot of years now cultivating an audience on social media, and when we looked at the (League Pass) packages we thought this would be a great way to add to our everyday storytelling on social (media),” Melissa Rosenthal Brenner, the NBA’s Senior Vice President of Digital Media, told PBT.
Last year during the Finals, the league announced that fans would be able to buy single games that they could stream on their phone, tablet, laptop, whatever — ala carte games. This season NBA becomes the first major sport to offer its games this way for streaming, you don’t have to buy the entire package. Just want to watch Golden State vs. Milwaukee? Then just buy that one game. It seemed a smart play for younger fans (read: Millennials) who tend to consume their media in bite-sized portions (usually on a phone or tablet). The die hards will always buy the entire League Pass package, and fans of one team can now buy just that team’s game on League Pass, but ala carte games were the next logical step.
Not long before that announcement, at the Sloan Analytics Conference last year in Boston, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver took it one step further, saying he thought the best thing would be to alert people via social media — Twitter and Facebook, specifically — and have them be able to quickly tap right into the experience. The NBA social media team took that and ran with it — they set up the plans for this direct access to live games via social media, and got it in place for this season.
Streaming is becoming big business for the NBA, and its teams and media partners. Everyone wants in. For example (as we often link to here at PBT), if you are a home-town subscriber to a Comcast regional sports network that broadcasts local NBA games — the Warriors in the Bay Area, the Celtics in Boston, the Wizards in Washington D.C., and so on — you can watch streams of every game they broadcast from those local sites.
In a world where the NFL foolishly takes steps to force GIF highlights of its product off Twitter, the NBA has always taken the opposite approach — make the game as accessible as possible. That means fans can post GIFs on Twitter or highlights on YouTube and it all has the league’s blessing.
“It’s about accessibility,” Rosenthal Brenner said. “I think we also subscribe to this notion that fan-generated content is the ultimate marketing. There’s a notion that fans either seeing tonight’s highlights, or things from each other showing their joy and love of the game, is going to compel other people to watch.”
There also is no more active major professional sport on social media than the NBA.
“It’s not just us, over 90 percent of our players — I think the exact number is 87 percent — have at least one social (media) account,” Rosenthal Brenner added. “Our teams are committed to posting great content. At the end of the day, we’re all huge fans of the game and using social to talk hoops has been a very successful strategy for us. And that includes just access.”
Which is now just a couple clicks away for any game.