The NBA has a robust social media presence with 35 million Instagram followers, 3.8 million fans on TikTok and “several exclusive” Snapchat shows, but with viewership amongst its “core audience” – 18-34 year olds – down -11% season to date and “almost -50%” since 2010, Commissioner Adam Silver has acknowledged that the league, ESPN and its “partners at AT&T and WarnerMedia” have yet to figure out how to navigate the new media landscape.
The task at hand is “conditioning a new generation of fans that 8p on a Tuesday is 8p on a Tuesday.”
Millennials and Gen-Z’s want to watch content on demand, but sporting events require appointment viewing – once they go final, there’s little reason to watch.
Silver believes that the NBA can restore the demographic balance, with a buy on the fly model that enables its fans to access the league’s most exciting games in progress.
The NBA’s fan-friendly approach to social media has helped both the league and its players gain [global] exposure – which is why MLB just announced it would allow its stars to share in-game highlights, but it’s important to remember that being popular doesn’t equal demand.
Only a percentage of those who have measurable interest in a product will end up buying – or in this case tuning in.
Social media reaches a broad audience – many of whom are passive fans without the level of interest necessary to ever tune in to a live game or make a purchase.