NBA takes a page from TikTok for app refresh

    • The NBA launched a refreshed, Gen Z-attractive version of its app, per a press release. The new integrated digital platform was built in partnership with Microsoft, its cloud and AI partner. 
    • Key app features include vertical video and scrolling “For You” recommendations, a similar asset to that of TikTok, and real-time, live content like behind-the-scenes access to players and teams. 
    • Along with the app, the NBA unveiled a plethora of new content highlighting shows, original documentary programming and archival footage. Timed to the announcement is also the launch of its new global membership program, NBA ID.

    The NBA’s new app is proof that TikTok continues to exert its influence on the world of entertainment programming. The sports-focused offering is clearly designed to appeal to the younger generation, offering vertical video and user-specific, “social-style” content that could help drive Gen Z engagement and keep consumers engaged on and off game days. 

    Most notable to the refresh is the “For You” feature, which will feature content based on fan recommendations, as well as real-time highlights of each game in a vertically scrolling interface. The app, a product of NBA digital, the league’s joint venture with Turner Sports, utilizes personalization tools from Microsoft Azure and Azure AI, perks of the league’s shifted partnership with Microsoft.

    Along with a new user interface, the league is ushering in a plethora of content for viewers with perks for those who become an NBA ID member, its free rewards program, which could help it gather key consumer data. It will also integrate the NBA League Pass and NBA TV subscription offerings into the app, allowing paying fans to watch live games and highlights, check statistics and standings and view exclusive content. Those with the League Pass will also be treated to higher-quality video, lower streaming latency and a seamless user experience, per release details.

    Among content offerings is “NBABet stream,” a weekly show by NBA TV hosted by betting expert Tim Doyle to provide betting information during live games. The app will also see contributions from Fanduel, DraftKings and Bleacher report, among others. There will also be a free show, “CrunchTime,” hosted by NBA TV’s Jared Greenberg. The league is also branching out into more traditional storytelling with exclusive original programming like “Gold Blooded,” a docuseries telling the story of the Golden State Warriors’ journey to the 2022 NBA Championship, and “Pass the Rock,” a multi-part series looking at the league’s next generation of stars. 

    Off the court, the NBA unveiled additional content that explores the lifestyle, culture, fashion and music around the game and will also deliver informational shows that take fans to live critical game moments. The app also nods to the growing influencer marketing economy with sports-related creator partnerships including those with sports YouTubers Ben Taylor, Jesser, Kris London and Lethal Shooter, among others.


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