The NFL and MLB stayed home. The NBA is stepping out. We’ll see who innovates the best.
The NBA and Turner Broadcasting System will jointly manage the league’s domestic 24-hour digital business (announcement), including programming, marketing, technical operations of NBA TV, hosting and operating the NBA.com network (NBA.com, WNBA.com, NBADLeague.com), and broadband and wireless offerings.
When faced with similar decisions, the NFL and MLB opted to manage their digital business in house, and the innovation jury is still out as to whether it’s better to keep everything inside or partner with someone on the outside. The NBA decided to buck the trend and step out, choosing to go with with Turner, its broadcasting partner of 24 years and the longest league/network partnership in professional sports.
“We have extraordinary opportunities on a global scale,” NBA Commissioner David Stern said. “We think we are in an ‘era of partnership’ . . . having your own expertise in every aspect of a business is ultimately going to turn out to be too expensive and, ultimately, not the best opportunity for growth.
“In this case, the NBA taps into Turner’s expertise in programming, production and digital, as well as its integrated sales — with the comfort level that comes from 24 years of working together through Turner’s cable rights,” he said.
The agreement begins in full in the 2008-2009 season and runs through the 2015-2016 season.
The NBA isn’t unlike the NFL, MLB, and NHL professional sports leagues, with each offering expansive digital/Web content ranging from the live streaming of games to YouTube highlight channels to fantasy stats, wallpapers and ringtones. (last100 survey.)
Football and baseball, however, have more cohesive, comprehensive strategies, while basketball seems to suffer from a throw-it-against-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks mentality. There’s too much traditional Web and not enough cutting edge new media other than the streaming of some ESPN/TNT games and current and classic highlights on Joost.
While Turner can certainly deliver traditional media, it remains to be seen if it knows new media and how to get the NBA’s content to its fans in new and exciting ways.