Twitter will focus NBA livestreams on individual, fan-selected player
- Twitter signed a deal with the NBA this week to stream video that focuses on a single player during the second half of some games beginning in February. While the social network won't stream full NBA games, it will let Twitter users vote during the first half of select games on which player to feature during the second-half stream, Recode reported.
- The NBA's "iso-cam" that focuses on a single player will be available in 20 games starting next month at the annual All-Star game and will include at least one playoff game. Viewers who watch the first half of the game on TNT can vote at the @NBAonTNT account on Twitter for which player they want featured before the second half starts.
- If the player featured in the iso-cam sits on the sideline bench or is fouled out of the game, Twitter will show a stream of the remaining game from a camera behind one of the backboards. The broadcast version will continue to show the mid-court angle.
NBA's iso-cam pilot with Twitter is another way to engage basketball fans with its games by combining its TV broadcast with social networking and mobile users. By urging viewers to vote for a specific player via Twitter, the NBA is giving fans more control of their viewing experience. The iso-cam, while still just a test, may increase the value of sponsorships for jersey patches, as a close-up shot of a player boosts the likelihood that viewers see a jersey patch. The partnership is the NBA's latest tech partnership, following deals with music startup UnitedMasters and dating app Bumble.
The iso-cam test urges viewers to combine their cable viewing with video streaming as over-the-top services have enticed many people to cancel their pay-TV subscriptions. More than three-fourths (78%) of U.S. households subscribe to traditional TV services, and 2019 may see that percentage eclipsed by the share of homes that sign up for a streaming service like Netflix or Hulu, according to Leichtman Research estimates cited by USA Today. AT&T and Disney plan to launch new streaming video services this year, which may compel more households to cut the cord for streaming alternatives.
Twitter has expanded its sports programming in several ways after losing out to Amazon for the rights to stream some NFL games. Fox Sports and Twitter are working together to bring more soccer to the social network for the 2019 Women's World Cup in France this summer. The social network also partnered with England's Football Association on a direct message bot that sends video highlights to overseas soccer fans starting with the third round of the Emirates FA Cup. In addition, the company last year signed a three-year deal to stream Major League Soccer matches that broadcast on Univision networks, further demonstrating Twitter's push toward engaging sports fans on its platform.