Basketball Twitter is a real thing. It’s rabid subset of Twitter users that discusses games, breaks news, and passes on rumors to fans. It is because of that rabid fanbase on the social media site that the NBA’s decision to extend and expand its deal with Twitter should help both the league and social site with engagement.
Engagement is a buzz-word that the business world loves to use when describing how involved its fans are with online content. It’s taken over as a major selling point to advertising partners. It’s no longer just about ratings, clicks, views, and uniques. If the fans aren’t engaged and paying attention to the content, it’s not as effective. Sure the number of eyeballs matter, but if people are just hopping off the site immediately, advertisers and partners feel like they aren’t getting their money-worth. As the sports world becomes more fragmented and fans’ viewing habits change engagement becomes more important to the business.
Basketball Twitter has engagement numbers in droves. That is why the NBA/Twitter deal means something in the sports business community. The NBA knows that people are consuming its product through different mediums. The best way to battle against cord cutters, or drops in TV ratings is to engage fans in creative new ways. For people in the industry who fear that we are in a sports right bubble, the NBA’s willingness to spread its content through digital distribution is signaling a diversifying portfolio and should alleviate concern. If the league is losing traditional viewers but gaining digital viewers it’s a good defense play. The only real losers in this situation are the companies that paid billions of dollars for TV rights as subscribers drop and ratings decrease.
The Twitter deal accomplishes the diversification while increasing engagement. There will be more pre-game and post-game content. Fans of the NBA who are probably already on Twitter will now be paying more attention to their feeds for new content. Advertising partners will have new inventory to take advantage of. It is a win-win.
Twitter stock didn’t see a material jump in its stock price and that is because Wall Street needs to see how the site takes advantage of these new sports deals. If Twitter can become the go-to digital distribution channel for sports — it will also be streaming NFL games this year — than it could benefit from a jump in daily active users and more advertisement dollars flowing into the company.