The tweet from February 3, 2009, seems almost quaint: Stay tuned to find out where Amazing will happen tonight...
Stay tuned to find out where Amazing will happen tonight...— NBA (@NBA) February 3, 2009
But those 10 words, which received 56 likes and 72 retweets, marked the first time the NBA posted on Twitter. They also heralded a partnership that now thrives as an ultimate showcase for basketball.
Today, the NBA has more than 430 million followers across all league, team and player platforms, one of the largest and most vibrant social media fan bases in the world. NBA videos on the platform were viewed more than 1 billion times during the 2018-19 season, an all-time high. Players like LeBron James (the most followed U.S. athlete on Twitter), Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry have embraced the platform, offering fans an inside look at their everyday lives.
The NBA and Twitter extended their partnership before the 2019-20 season to deepen the engagement with this passionate community. Fans now have access to even more NBA content, including the NBA on TNT’s #NBATwitterLive livestreams, alternative commentaries, highlights, and real-time interactions with the league, players and each other.
Upcoming #NBATwitterLive 2020 Schedule:
Jan. 9: Boston Celtics at Philadelphia 76ers
Feb. 15: NBA All-Star Saturday Night Post-Dunk Show
Feb. 16: NBA All-Star Game
April/May: 10 First-and second-round playoff games
May: Western Conference finals games
“In a lot of ways, Twitter is the heartbeat of the NBA,” says Sam Farber, NBA Vice President of Digital Media. “It is a living thing and all of us – the players, the fans, the media, the teams – are a part of it. The platform lends itself to a more dynamic and real-time conversation where you don’t have to upload photos or videos. You can just say your thoughts and react to others.”
The extended partnership has seen the launch of a new highlights franchise that replays NBA action from unique angles. It also delivers more live content to the platform, including press conferences, pregame warmups and Q&As with players during the Playoffs and Finals.
And fans still have access to popular features that were introduced previously, including behind-the-scenes content and weekly #NBATwitter recaps. Also, the #NBATwitterLive stream continues to show a variety of regular-season games, as well as the All-Star Game and at least 16 playoff games, including the entire Western Conference Finals. Now though, the livestream – which is complementary to the NBA on TNT telecasts – occurs during the second halves of NBA games on TNT with an isolated-camera feed featuring a fan-voted player. It is accompanied by commentary from 2016 NBA champion and 13-year NBA veteran Channing Frye and a host of influencers.
The NBA was an early adopter of Twitter, which debuted in 2006. Since the league’s first tweet, it found that including video photos and other interactive elements significantly increased fan engagement. By 2018, a tweet containing video of Derrick Rose scoring a career-high 50 points received more than 1.3 million views. A video of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver revealing the NBA jersey of the future at All-Star 2019 garnered 4.2 million views.
After more than a decade of innovation from both the league and Twitter, #NBATwitter is geared to deliver even more content and generate more engagement with fans for years to come.
“Our fans go to Twitter for up-to-date NBA news and content, and to know where our games are airing,” said Farber. “We’ll continue thinking about how we can deliver a robust experience and greater interactivity – making the conversation two ways. It’s easy to send a message from one to many. What’s challenging and takes some touch and elegance is figuring out how to have a two-way conversation that is productive. In the future, we’ll be unlocking more of those opportunities.”