A recent Infrared report on the future of fan engagement highlighted an opportunity for sports brands and rights-holders to engage with audiences via ‘Dark Social’  a new method of communication as young fans seek more authentic, personal experiences. At CES 2019, the world’s biggest technology show, the possibility for authenticity and personalisation in sport fan engagement took another giant leap.
Remember Sky Sports ‘Player Cam’ from the late 90s, early 00s? Well, the NBA and Turner Broadcasting are taking this technology to a whole new level. As of February 2019, NBA fans can experience games through the eyes of some the best players in the league via a live Twitter stream. During the first half of a game, fans will vote for which player they want to see featured and the ‘iso-cam’ stream will then be posted on Twitter for the second half, along with exclusive commentary not available on the television broadcast.
Not only does this partnership present live sport and social media in a way that’s never been done before, it also provides the NBA with a platform to showcase its product to a wider audience – the hard to reach casual fans who would otherwise not be engaging with its product.
Equally, existing, passionate fans can enjoy a unique second screen experience that further enhances the way they engage with each other and the game.
It is a significant development as historically sports leagues have been reluctant to give away content for free on social media. The NBA/Turner/Twitter partnership is a fantastic example of innovation in this space.
For the NBA, Twitter is a marketing platform with the ability to increase conversation about the league, in turn driving interest to live games on its media partners platforms. In the eyes of Turner, Twitter is considered complementary rather than competitive.
The NBA is pioneering a radically new way of watching live sport, cementing itself as the most prominent league for digital innovation. The global sport industry should watch closely.