Adam Silver on King Charles Credit: King Charles on CNN

The NBA has long been king on social media, but this week commissioner Adam Silver acknowledged the league’s popularity on Instagram or YouTube won’t be enough to support the league’s bottom line.

Joining hosts Charles Barkley and Gayle King on CNN’s King Charles this week, Silver explained his view of streamers entering the NBA broadcasting ecosystem in its new rights package.

“We’ve got to think about how we’re going to produce and present our games in a way where they are going to be easily accessible,” Silver said, referencing the NFL’s success on streaming platforms such as Prime Video and Peacock. “You must talk to fans all the time who don’t get cable. They feast on social media, and our players are incredibly popular there, but it’s not a substitute for watching live games.”

In addition to entertaining offers from Amazon, NBC Universal and other live sports streamers for streaming rights to NBA games, Silver said the league hopes to innovate around new types of broadcasts going forward.

This week, the NBA announced its League Pass product will feature in-stream betting functionality. Silver previously presented virtual reality viewing technology at All-Star weekend.

Silver’s comments here may not come as shocking. But the NBA has for years celebrated its dominance online, including for many years its lenience around content creators using NBA game footage in their work.

As push comes to shove around negotiations with broadcast partners, the NBA has shifted. New rules mandate players compete in at least 65 games in order to be eligible for most awards. The league and players’ union approved harsher punishments for so-called “load management” for star players in specific circumstances. Silver’s comments came on the airwaves of a league partner in Warner Bros. Discovery, which oversees CNN and TNT Sports.

Social media success simply does not generate revenue like game viewership. Silver is now saying so more forcefully in public than ever before.

[King Charles on CNN]

About Brendon Kleen

Brendon is a Media Commentary staff writer at Awful Announcing. He has also covered basketball and sports business at Front Office Sports, SB Nation, Uproxx and more.