How to monetize digital content? NBA offers some clues

In a world with super oceans of content, how do you monetize your offering? Digital platforms the world over have been grappling with this question ever since traditional media like print and television started becoming obsolete.

Sports leagues have it easier as they have a ready audience. Nevertheless, there is some wisdom to be gained for everyone in the way leagues have made the transition to streaming.

On December 22, some clues bounced out from the world of basketball. Mark Tatum, deputy commissioner of the NBA, said in a conference call that virtual signage and innovations in its streaming service helped make it marketable and consumer-friendly.

To a question as to how the NBA sought to maximize revenue from its digital platforms in a season in which everything went digital, Tatum said, “Virtual signage was something that we utilized pretty extensively in the (bio) bubble, and we’ll continue to do that going forward in different places.”

“Things like alternative streams on our digital product – a sideline stream, which gives different angles; the rail cam; the courtside cam; influencer streams, where we’ll have different influencers who will speak during our games [have helped make the programming vibrant],” Tatum said.

Commentary in different languages, including Portuguese, Korean and Spanish, was another instrumental factor, according to Tatum, who visited India last year in connection with the Indiana Pacers and Sacramento Kings’ India tour.

All the innovation would not be possible without technological partners. Like a fan rattling off names of greats like LeBron James, Steph Curry, Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson,  Tatum listed the league’s alliances with tech giants.

“We have partnered with several important digital partners,” Tatum said. “As you saw during the restart [of the season] in Orlando, partners like Microsoft, which helped us bring virtual fans into the arena through their Microsoft Teams Together mode; companies like Facebook, who helped us create the Oculus cam and the rail cam to create different camera angles as well as shooting games and providing games in virtual reality; partners like

AT&T, with whom for the first time ever we created these hologram interviews using 5G technology. Those are some of the technology and digital partners that we have worked with to present the game in a different and unique way that was really tailored toward the digital fan.”

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