NBA plan to make money and engage fans in Disney’s ‘bubble’

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks to the media after Board of Governors meetings on July 12, 2016 at the Encore Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.

David Dow | NBAE | fake pictures

It is in phase two for the reopening of the National Basketball Association after the league ended the first phase by finalizing return plans for a season suspended by Covid-19.

The league’s Disney World “bubble” campus will house 22 teams in an effort to crown a champion and continue the season despite an increase in Covid-19 cases across Florida. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver spoke to members of the media on Friday and discussed how the league would continue if Covid-19 cases spread within the bubble. He said that if the cases reach a certain point, “that could lead us to stop the season.”

“I think we just want to get going and start to see how our tests work and how protocols work, and then we will make decisions as we go along,” Silver said.

And so the show continues.

The NBA is headed to Orlando to save some of its lost revenue, which is projected to reach $ 1 billion if the remaining games are canceled, and players will lose more than $ 600 million in salary. In addition to pandemic-related revenue losses, the NBA still has unsolved problems with China, which Silver said in February that could cost the league $ 400 million.

So the NBA will get creative as there is no playbook for games without viewers.

The virtual rostrum of the NBA

Behind the scenes, the NBA scanned abroad for ideas on how to attract its fans, looking up to Denmark’s Aarhus Gymnastikforening (AGF), where the soccer league invited 10,000 fans to watch through a video broadcast. Zoom. Fans signed up to receive tickets and combined into Zoom calls that featured other fans in sections they normally sat with during games. NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum, who oversees the league’s business affairs, hinted at ideas like those of AGF, which is called the world’s “first virtual rostrum”.

“We are going to use this as an opportunity to bring our fans closer to the game,” said Tatum. “And so what they will see in the arena are opportunities for fans to interact, to be seen in the arena, and for hundreds of fans to appear on the video boards surrounding the field.”

Craig Howe, CEO and founder of Rebel Ventures, advised the NBA on ways to develop its content in Orlando. He said the league is trying “to gather as much information as possible to give their teams an idea of ​​what content they will be able to create, so they can start thinking about overcoming the challenges.”

Howe Firm helps sports organizations transform their media and entertainment businesses. He said “the biggest challenge will be capturing the excitement” of fans not attending. “But he added:” I hope the NBA takes that to another level because they have had time to see what other leagues were doing. ”

The NBA may also use the lower space of the Arena, Field House, and Visa Athletic Center at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex for advertising space. It is similar to what the National Football League plans to do by placing banner tarps in the front rows of seats around stadiums.

“There will also be corporate and partner advertising, both by local teams and national partners, who would watch televised games at the national and local levels,” Tatum said. “We are working with our corporate partners to ensure they have the right locations on the court and different marketing and advertising opportunities.”

The underutilized asset

Tatum said the NBA “is still working through projected revenue” that the league hopes to get from the season’s restart. Another way to combat loss is to revitalize underutilized assets, said Chris Lencheski, a professor at Columbia University and CEO of Winning Streak Sports, a marketing, licensing and promotion organization with Granite Bridge Partners.

The NBA has long tried to monetize the audio of its game. Former NBA Commissioner David Stern called for more microphones to be placed around games in 2013, and now may be the time for the NBA to create a revenue play with his audio. With Spotify increasing the value of audio after investing more than $ 600 million to acquire multiple podcast platforms and stars, and Twitter testing audio-only tweets, the NBA could be in a profitable asset as on-court talk could attract fan interest.

Would fans pay to hear the exclusive comment from Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid, Houston Rockets star Russell Westbrook during a game? Would there be interest in Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green’s fourth quarter audio? The deals could be “especially entertaining and easily profitable,” said Lencheski, also president of Phenicia, a sports and entertainment management firm.

“Audio on the court, and all that interface, player to player, player to coach, player and coach and referee, is one of the most underused media resources in sports,” he said.

And with the global reach of the NBA, “and now the development of platforms like Spotify and TikTok … and the age of those users and their unique usage patterns that shift from traditional radio to podcasting or subscription-based audio, there’s a huge value unlocked, “said Lencheski.