NBA commissioner outlines strategy to increase league’s appeal
In a recent appearance on "The Old Man and The Three" podcast with former NBA player JJ Redick, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the league could become more NFL-like in terms of appeal to casual sports fans.
Silver believes that the NBA can achieve a similar level of widespread interest and enthusiasm for its games. To achieve this, the NBA must talk more about lesser-known teams and embrace the power of social media to engage with fans.
"Historically, if you asked casual fans, 'Are you going to watch the NBA Finals?' They would say, 'Who's going to be in it?'" said Silver.
"And if you asked an NFL fan if they were going to watch the Super Bowl, they would never say, 'Only if the Giants are in it.' It's a national holiday."
Silver cited the depth of NFL analysis, where fans are well-versed in the strengths and strategies of various teams, players and coaches, as something the NBA should aim to replicate.
If the NBA can provide greater coverage and analysis of all NBA teams, not just the well-known ones, it would help fans become interested in lesser-known teams, similar to how NFL fans can appreciate teams beyond their favorites.
"There's really complex defenses, what is the offense like? Why is this team losing the way they are? Why is this team successful? Explain what the pick and roll is … explain what's happening on the court," said Silver.
He called on analysts working with league partners like ESPN and TNT to provide more detailed and insightful commentary. The commissioner wants the discussion to delve into the complexities of the game.
"I think Kenny Smith, when he goes to that board, is a great example of helping explain the game visually, graphically to people to understand what is happening on the floor," he said.
"Not necessarily a knock on the media or any of our partners, but let's talk more about basketball."
Silver also drew a sharp contrast between the perception of coaching in the NFL and the NBA, with the former seen as employing complex schemes and strategies, while the latter often emphasizes athleticism and effort. He stressed the need to shift this perception and give basketball coaches more credit for their approaches to the game.
Engaging with fans through social media
The commissioner noted that the league needs to engage with fans, correct inaccuracies, guide discussions and react to trending topics. According to Silver, the NBA's communication department is important in ensuring the league remains part of the social media dialogue. He noted that if a conversation or meme is gaining traction on social media, the NBA should be involved in addressing it, especially when there are factual inaccuracies to correct.
In addition, the league should strive to guide discussions and respond to trending topics to maintain its relevance in the digital landscape.
"NBA Twitter is real. It's a humongous audience of people. Twitter (X) told us recently that sports is the number one category of content on that service. Not just the NBA, but it drives that platform," said the commissioner.