Sports leagues once just arranged games and sold them to, say, ESPN. They still do—but now they also see themselves as content producers, competing directly against other media. The NBA has thrived in this new world and makes a compelling case: "We have more footage, more access, to every moment of the games that are played," says SVP Christina Miller, who oversees the NBA's TV network and digital products. The league has succeeded by playing the middle—producing its digital material and TV station with longtime partner Turner Broadcasting, and reaching more fans every season. Some key stats:
Number of people who watched NBA TV's documentary The Dream Team, the channel's highest-rated programming of 2012. That's hardly the 16.9 million who saw last season's championship series on ABC, but it's a start in solving the riddle of how to engage fans beyond games. "People come to us for much more than the obvious," says Miller. The station is now available in 61 million homes (up from 55 million last year).
Video views at NBA.com last season. This season, the league redesigned NBA.com, its app, and all 30 teams' apps around video highlights—which are pumped to its 342 million social media followers (between the league, teams, and players).
Increase of mobile subscriptions for League Pass, which streams all NBA games live (minus blackouts). Miller credits that growth in part to the NBA's quick marketing adjustments. When Linsanity erupted last year, for example, it boosted ads for League Pass, figuring fans everywhere were craving Knicks games.
The NBA TV's brand new 5000 square foot studio has been outfitted with a hardwood court, basketball hoop and a half-court demonstration area. Here's how they made it:
Photo by Eric Ogden