By Rick Horrow and Karla Swatek
October 28, 2013
When the NBA first started working with Twitter in 2009, the league mainly used the social media platform as a way to get fans to tune in to close games. Four years and millions of Twitter followers later, that mindset has changed dramatically. Now, it’s also about telling the players’ stories. Leading the NBA in number of Twitter followers is MVP LeBron James, with close to 10 million. The NBA itself counts 8.4 million followers.
Twitter’s recent deal with Nielsen to create a social media-influenced set of TV ratings also attempts to prove that Twitter can improve the core business of television. Boosting Twitter’s claim is an August Nielsen study showing that 29% of 221 broadcast shows—across all genres, including sports—saw a significant ratings lift from heightened Twitter activity.
For the NBA and other leagues, agreements like last month’s eight-figure NFL-Twitter deal aren’t yet focused on content and rights fees. They still view Twitter mainly as a marketing platform. But they also realize that services like Twitter’s Amplify advertising platform will eventually help them figure out how to generate meaningful revenue through social media.