Adam Silver explains why the NBA is far more liberal with sharing highlights on social media than other leagues

Adam Silver explains why the NBA is far more liberal with sharing highlights on social media than other leagues

Adam Silver

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NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

  • Adam Silver explained in an interview that the NBA makes highlights of its games readily available online because it thinks that will make fans more interested in live games.
  • Not coincidentally, the league's business is thriving, and it is doing particularly well with young, digitally-minded viewers.
  • Other leagues, such as the NFL, are not nearly as good about making their content available online.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver recently gave an interview to strategy+business in which he explained why the league is so willing to make its highlights available online.

"We promote the posting of our highlights. The highlights are identified through YouTube's software, and when ads are sold against them, we share in the revenue. We analogize our strategy to snacks versus meals. If we provide those snacks to our fans on a free basis, they're still going to want to eat meals - which are our games. There is no substitute for the live game experience. We believe that greater fan engagement through social media helps drive television ratings," Silver said.

And the NBA's strategy looks to be paying off, as a report earlier this year claimed that the league's ratings are up and that it is doing exceptionally well with younger viewers. The league also signed a massive television deal a few years back, and the Houston Rockets recently sold for over $2 billion.

Silver went on to elaborate on how the NBA uses digital media to measure its reach to potential content consumers.


"We look at social media data every day to see how many people are following the league, our teams, and individual players. And we have various measures for whether the commentary is positive or negative. With our online products, like League Pass, we're able to monitor not just sales, but usage. We know how long people are watching those games, and what portions of those games," he said.

The NBA's embracing of online media stands in stark contrast to other leagues, most notably the NFL, which has in the past refused to allow teams to share GIFs or video of highlights on their Twitter pages.

With the NBA currently thriving in the new media landscape, perhaps other leagues should start following its lead.