Adam Silver says NBA broadcasts could become more like Twitch in the future

Adam Silver has shown since becoming the NBA's commissioner that he's not afraid of embracing and thinking about change. One of the ways the NBA knows it will need to change is broadcasting. As TV changes, and more people cut cable every year, live sports will need to find ways to adapt.

For Silver, one of those ways is embracing a platform already dominated by the video game market. The website Twitch.tv, a subsidiary of Amazon, is mainly known for streaming video games. However, it's also known for streaming eSports events that have view counts ranging in the hundreds of thousands. Silver says that the future of NBA broadcasting will be similar to Twitch.

Now if you think about, if anyone here is a gamer, if you go on Twitch for example and see what it's like to follow those competitions, it's sort of constant chatter of fans there's all kinds of other information appearing on the screen. I think to older consumers used to looking at sports it might look incredibly cluttered, but as Facebook and other services experiment with live sports rights, and I'm sure Amazon's going to be doing the same thing, I think they don't have the same limitations cable and satellite historically have had.

Really, it's not for a lack of creativity from the great cable and satellite companies, its the limitation of technology of the cable box. And what they do over the top is you can have unlimited fields on your screen. You can have information popping on, coming off. You can have descriptions of plays and information about players, and what's most interesting to me, and I've seen a lot of the R&D work that's being done by these over the top services, is I think our game, not next year, but three, four, five years from now it's going to start looking very different.

Think about it, you can have unlimited audio feeds, for example. You may not want to listen to the same standard play-by-play you always get, instead it could be your friend doing play-by-play, it could be a comedian doing play-by-play, it could be a celebrity doing play-by-play sitting courtside. You could be getting all kinds of information about those players. Where they're from, biometrics — wearables is a hot area in sports right now. It may be fascinating to see how much, try to measure stress on players when they're going to the line. Unlimited information. Then there's daily fantasy, moving likely towards legalized gaming or gambling and sports betting in this country. There's going to be all these new fields of information, and I think, in a way, when you look at games now it's like a silent movie.

Silver looking at Twitch as a future model for the NBA is fascinating. The interactivity of Twitch is so much more than an average television broadcast. Not only is there a constant streaming chat room to the side of every Twitch stream, but there is also a much more accurate number of how many people are watching a certain broadcast as opposed to Nielsen ratings and advertisements. Then, of course, as Silver mentioned, there's the potential variety that can be seen in these broadcasts.

Last year, during the College Football National Championship, there were multiple broadcast options available. Fans could choose between a broadcast that would focus on their favorite team, a coaches broadcast for a more X's and O's style experience or just the traditional play by play with color commentary. Twitch is a platform that would naturally bring out these types of broadcasts and make them available to the NBA. 

Once again, Silver is looking at the future and embracing change, and that is good news for NBA fans.

Show Comments Hide Comments
Our Latest Stories