SBD/January 11, 2017/People and Pop Culture

Minding My Business: NextVR VP Danny Keens Talks NBA Content, Best Practices

Keens unwinds by spending time with his King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, Taylor
Name: Danny Keens

Position: NextVR VP/Content

Age: 39

Where I’m from: Bungendore, Australia

Where I call home: N.Y.

Focusing on right now: The big measure of success for us is the amount of time we can keep people in a headset. The Bundesliga game we did in June of last year, the average time spent in a headset was four minutes. Fast forward to our NBA game we did last week, the average time spent in a headset was 32 ½ minutes. That speaks to the quality of the content.

Best advice: You have to be a student of the medium -- that could be radio, television or virtual reality. You can’t master any of these mediums or the storytelling associated with them by just hanging around people who talk about it. You can’t just learn calculus by hanging around people who know calculus. You have to study it and understand not just what the questions are, but what the answers are.

A must for a new hire: A lot of people have a philosophy when they’re hiring where they’ll say, “Are they a cultural fit?” I have the reverse approach. I always look for a cultural add. If there’s a cultural add, it’s more valuable. If you hire with the philosophy of a cultural fit, you end up building an organization or company filled with people who have the same opinions as you. There isn’t the flavor to the company that you need to grow.

Person I admire: KATIE JACOBS STANTON, who was the VP/Global at Twitter while I was there. I keep regular contact with her -- she was really insightful and could look at things different ways and help me get perspectives on decisions whether it was day-to-day conversations or more broad-sweeping conversations around strategy. She was very generous with her time -- I would talk to her about a lot of things.

Best book I’ve read: “Shoe Dog” by PHIL KNIGHT was actually a surprisingly good read.

First thing in the morning: At night I always make a list of three things I need to accomplish the next day, so first thing every morning I’ll take a look and reassess. If you do that process, things often change -- sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse.

Talking tech: One thing I’m keeping an eye on, completely unrelated to VR, is the smart cars and the rise of these autonomous vehicles. It’s going to cover so many industries. If you think about autonomous vehicles, you have to think about smart roads and the infrastructure required to make them safe.

Must-have music: INXS. There’s also an Australian band called POWDERFINGER. My favorite band though is ICEHOUSE -- so I'm all over Australian rock. I also have Spotify and listen to that a lot. If I look at my most recently played music, there’s a band called YEARS & YEARS and there’s a bit of LADY GAGA.

Food for thought: I’m an absolute sucker for good Mexican food. If you lined up a bunch of restaurants in front of me, I’d always go Mexican first.

How I unwind: I’ll go to the gym, and I also have a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel named Taylor. I take him out in the mornings and last thing at night. He is my pride and joy. On top of that -- movies. The best thing about going to the movies is just sitting back and having someone tell you a story -- and you don’t have to work hard for that.

Day in the life: The sports content that we broadcast, it can’t just be different from television, it can’t just be a novelty, it has to be better. When you watch an NBA game in VR, we give you a pregame show, stats, game score, shot clock, dynamic player stats. All the information you want gets overlaid on the experience. We also just introduced the ability to do full-screen replays. We’re really trying to double-down on the technology and the demands of the audience.
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