A new way of watching the NBA is coming to Twitter. During 20 NBA on TNT games this season, an isolated single-player view will be available to fans for the second half, with voters determining who will be featured. The stream will debut during the Feb. 17 All-Star game, with regular season and playoff games expected to be included in the package going forward.
The streams will also feature exclusive commentators. Though names have not been announced, NBA VP for digital media Sam Farber told SI “#NBATwitter influencers” would provide the sound, and Twitter-specific graphics would be incorporated as well. Whereas Turner has built out its Players Only broadcast with a table of ex-pros providing insight, Tweeters Only would bring an even more divergent conversation to the fore. (Details are still being finalized, but the league does not expect commercial breaks will impact the stream, and the production will show action on the floor whenever the highlighted player hits the bench.)
Pro basketball has benefited immensely from online conversation during the season, but adding an actual audio feed during the action represents a significant step for all three partners: The NBA, Twitter, and Turner Sports. “We envision this being a complementary experience to the linear broadcast on TNT,” Farber said. “The vision for this feed is to push the boundaries of game presentation and interactivity.”
According to Farber, it was Turner that brought the initial idea to the NBA. Turner jointly manages NBA Digital along with the league. “Their expertise in broadcasting and technology puts them in a unique position to create innovative experiences that fuse broadcast elements with social media to accompany the linear telecast,” he said.
In a statement Turner president David Levy said, “Turner and the NBA have always taken a leadership position in providing fans with engaging experiences and this partnership with Twitter is the latest example.”
The deal strengthens a Twitter–NBA relationship that has boosted both. “On social media, there’s nothing like NBA Twitter,” Rick Maese wrote in The Washington Post last May. Later Wednesday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and NBA commissioner Adam Silver are scheduled to speak together at Las Vegas’ Consumer Electronics Show. “#NBATwitter is one of the most exciting and entertaining global conversations happening on Twitter today,” Dorsey said in a press release.