No American sports league has done a better job leveraging social media into fan attention and energy than the NBA. In part due to a lax attitude toward highlight distribution, the league has cultivated a vast community of fans on Twitter and Instagram while growing the profiles of its teams and players. The NBA currently has more Twitter followers and twice as many Instagram followers than the NFL, to say nothing of the league’s robust cult of diehards spread across the internet.
With that in mind, it’s no surprise to see the NBA and Twitter partnering on an innovative new venture. On Wednesday, the league and the social-media giant unveiled a direct-message bot that provides scores, schedules, news, highlight videos and original programming.
To use the bot, you simply slide into the NBA’s DMs, choose your favorite team and select from a menu of options.
Check out the #NBA bot!
You're just moments away from real-time access to the latest from around the league.https://t.co/ayxuzNcZvZ
— NBA (@NBA) December 12, 2017
Within the DM interface, users can watch “The Starters Twitter Show” and “The WarmUp,” two shows produced by the NBA and Turner, or select from a menu of videos. Via SportTechie:
“The NBA has been one of our longest standing and most innovative partners,” Twitter’s global director of sports partnerships, Laura Froelich, told SportTechie. “They’ve always said to us, ‘As soon as you have something new, we want to be the first to do it.’”
Sports fans in general and NBA fans in particular already turn increasingly to social media for news and highlights, and the NBA presumably hopes this DM bot can centralize that experience. Social media tends to democratize content — you don’t need to be a rightsholder to share a video or a credentialed reporter to offer an opinion — but this partnership theoretically allows the league to reclaim some of that distribution. For many consumers, the days of waking up and turning on “SportsCenter” to catch news and highlights are over. Maybe the days of waking up and DMing the NBA for news and highlights is now upon us.