NBA Digital throws social town hall for Christmas opening

By Natan Edelsburg 

It seems like just yesterday that the NBA barely made it out of a horrendous lockout and announced that the season would kick off on Christmas Day. You can imagine what it must have been like to be a social media marketer working at the NBA and it’s affiliates. Everything was frozen as talks went on, and fans across social were sad, upset, angry and eager for basketball to return on TV and in their cities.

While the major social marketers at the NBA and NBA Digital (managed by Turner Sports) probably had game plans ready to go with the hope that there would be a season, they really had no idea when this might be, or that they’d be thrown into a Christmas Day launch that they know millions around the globe would be anticipating and tuned into. They spectacularly planned an “unprecedented ‘NBA Town Hall’ on Facebook,” and through #BIGNBAXMAS and @NBA on Twitter.

The “NBA Town Hall” streamed live on NBA’s Facebook page and on Thursday evening. Kevin Durant, Amare Stoudemire and Stephen Curry answered fan questions via Facebook and the #NBATownHall hashtag. The league also used the hashtag #BIGNBAXMAS to give away gifts from tickets to jerseys.

We spoke with Christina Miller, Senior Vice President and General Manager of NBA Digital, about the social launch of the NBA’s late-starting season:

Lost Remote: Why did you design this Town Hall using Facebook?

Christina Miller: When we decided to conduct the ‘NBA Town Hall’, Facebook was the perfect place to do it because of its capabilities and past successes with other Town Hall programs. And, when we look at our ever-growing online and social community that we have built with over 10 million fans and a global audience, Facebook was a natural extension of our audience and a great way to connect the fans, players and the league.

Lost Remote: What are the goals?

CM: The goals for this project revolved around the fans. First, we wanted to continue the deep connection that fans have with not only the players, but also the league. Second, it was important to be able to connect fans with some of this season’s top players in real time conversations giving them the platform to ask their own questions about the upcoming season. Additionally, it was important for us to provide an outlet where fans could share in the excitement gearing up for the season tip off game on Christmas Day.

LR: What partners did you work with?

CM: There were many important ‘players’ involved to make this NBA Town Hall on Facebook possible: the NBA; Facebook; Watchaloo; the talented digital team at Turner Sports; the New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder and the Golden State Warriors organizations; insider, NBA TV contributor and the Town Hall moderator, David Aldridge; Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant; New York Knicks’ Amar’e Stoudemire and Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry.

LR: What tools did you use to manage this?

CM: The tools used to manage the is a blend of our Turner Sports core video player with our Facebook integration skill set, and partnering with Watchitoo’s multi-streaming collaboration platform.