Celtics Nominated for Team-Record Nine Emmy Awards

BOSTON – What does it feel like to be nominated for as many New England Emmy Awards as all of your local peer organizations combined? Just ask the Boston Celtics.

The Celtics, behind their modest five-employee production team, were nominated for a team-record nine New England Emmy Awards for their work during the 2018 calendar year. Prior to the record-setting nomination total, the team had received seven nominations and three award wins in its history.

New England’s other sports organizations combined to be nominated for nine awards this year, which matched the Celtics’ individual total. The Red Sox received six nominations, and the Bruins received three. NBC Sports Boston also received six nominations.

The Emmy Award winners will be announced Saturday night at the New England chapter’s ceremony in Boston.

“It’s a validation of all the work we’ve put in,” Kara Walker, the Celtics’ vice president of marketing and content strategy, said of the team’s nine nominations. “This year we had more nominations than the three previous years combined. That is clear. You can’t argue that.”

Nor could one argue the depth of the team’s content.

The nine nominations cover a wide variety of categories, and every member of the five-employee production team was named on at least two of the nine nominated pieces. The nominations fall under the following Emmy categories: Sports Feature/Segment, Program - Campaign, Program - Single Spot, Sports Series, Video Essay, Graphic Arts Program, Audio, and Editing (two).

Such an array of category nominations, inside one of the country’s largest and most competitive media markets, is a testament to what the team’s content group has accomplished.

“The recognition when you tell somebody that you have won an Emmy or that you were nominated for an Emmy is global, really, regardless of whether it’s a local Emmy of this area, which is comprised of six states. That’s a good accomplishment in and of itself,” said Justin Peterson, the team’s director of digital content production. “But I think it’s also recognition from a group perspective of, ‘Hey, we’re creating content that’s top-tier for the region.’”

Peterson said the nominations also serve as a payoff for the organization, which has invested heavily in the growth and development of the group.

“I think it’s an investment in all of the employees,” he said of how the group has reached new heights. “Getting to a point where they can push their skill sets so that every year it’s a new challenge to try and up the ante to improve your own skill set, to better fit the team to be able to deliver on higher-quality content.”

The organization’s investment in content has been a long process that is still ongoing. Just 10 years ago, the Celtics employed only a single digital employee to oversee the team’s website, Celtics.com. Now, the group has expanded to 12 employees who contribute to content ideation and generation on a daily basis, and that group works closely with many other departments to deliver high-quality content to all of the team’s digital platforms.

“The biggest piece is just the collaboration of bringing [the content] together,” Walker said. “It has taken a lot of people putting egos aside, a lot of difficult conversations, but really getting to a place where the one goal we have as a group is to produce the best content that we can, and everyone getting on board with that is what has led us to a place where we think has been successful.”

The group efforts have not only led to tangible results in the form of nominations, but also in the form of revenue, which better positions the team to build a top-tier roster on the court.

“That’s where the opportunity for revenue is,” Walker said of digital content, while adding that the C’s are sold out of traditional advertising inventory. “If you’re creating digital content with a partner, then you can drive to a specific call to action, you can track that through different metrics and engagements.”

That last word – engagements – is what content is all about. The Celtics strive to deliver as much engaging content to their fans as is possible with their current content team. Based upon this year’s record-setting nomination total, they’re accomplishing that goal while showcasing that their on-court product is not their only product that is of championship caliber.

“We’re no longer just a basketball team,” Walker said. “We’re a media company, too.”

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