NBA’s Adam Silver gave a fascinating interview on business, social media
By Rob Wolkenbrod
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver had a fascinating interview with Strategy-Business and proved he just understands everything.
Air Alamo is San Antonio Spurs centric, yes, but an interview NBA Commissioner Adam Silver did with Strategy-Business can supersede this for a moment, because he provided some commentary on the business aspect of the Association that made for a fascinating read.
Silver discussed the promotion of NBA highlights on social media, which float around on Facebook and Twitter. Whether it’s official accounts or from fans, the fourth-year leading man of the league does not seem to mind:
“We promote the posting of our highlights. The highlights are identified through YouTube’s software, and when ads are sold against them, we share in the revenue. We analogize our strategy to snacks versus meals. If we provide those snacks to our fans on a free basis, they’re still going to want to eat meals — which are our games. There is no substitute for the live game experience. We believe that greater fan engagement through social media helps drive television ratings.”
More fan engagement to get more interest does not seem like a crazy concept, right?
Frustrations between professional sports leagues and its players have been a problem, as well, especially with the NFL’s Roger Goodell. Silver talked about his positive relationship with members of his league and their minimal restraints on social media:
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In this league we recognize that the players are the stars, and we treat them as our partners. The fact that the league has their backs when they put themselves out there doesn’t necessarily mean we agree with everything they say. But we want them to know that political speech is protected in this league.
Twenty-five percent of our league is made up of players born outside the United States and who often come from countries where free speech is not permitted. It’s especially important that those players understand that when they play in the NBA, they get all rights afforded to U.S. citizens. It’s become part of our brand, in essence, that there is an expectation for our fans, even some who don’t agree with a particular point of view of a player, that this is a platform in which players should feel comfortable expressing themselves.
Silver also noted the LeBron James “shut up and dribble” media controversy and connected it to Bill Russell activism in the 1960s.
There were other fascinating points, but the final one we will mention is Silver’s thoughts on the fan experience in “three or five years from now.” He does not think it will change, despite the constant changes in how viewers get their content:
“In the next three to five years, my sense is there will not be a dramatic change. [The fan experience] will still largely be through conventional television: broadcast, cable, and satellite. And that’s because we are a live product. Fans will need to watch us live. But changes are happening every day in our live presentation. We are constantly looking for ways to create more engagement in our arenas.”
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If you enjoy the business side of professional sports, the full read from Christopher Vollmer and Daniel Gross will provide more insight on Silver’s thoughts. That includes television ratings, the television contract, over-the-top streaming packages (Silver said ESPN and TNT have no plan to distribute programs on OTT feeds).