SBJ/August 20-26, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NBA breaks out meeting on digital operations

The NBA held its first stand-alone digital meeting over two days in New York last week, as teams look to increase digital content and revenue opportunities for the coming season.

The league has held sessions related to digital business at its annual league marketing meetings each January, but last week marked the first time the NBA brought together digital staff from all 30 teams along with members of the league’s team marketing and business operations department to focus solely on digital operations. NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver spoke at the gathering. Executives from Turner Sports, which runs the NBA’s digital operations, also attended the sessions, which were held at the NBA’s Fifth Avenue headquarters. No outside speakers were brought in.

About 50 people attended and worked through an agenda of eight sessions, including panels focusing on digital content, the use of mobile applications, advertising sales execution, video and social media. There were no specific leaguewide digital business mandates issued to teams at the meeting.

“The entire theme was the exchange of best practices and a chance to tell each other what works and what doesn’t,” said Mike Allen, vice president of interactive services for the NBA, whose department spearheaded the meetings. “We are focusing on ways to better the [digital] experience for fans with the understanding that they could lead to sponsorship opportunities.”

About half of the NBA’s 30 teams offer mobile applications to fans — an increasing area of emphasis for the league. One panel was made up of representatives from the Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks and Charlotte Bobcats addressing the topic.

“We launched our first mobile application right before the NBA draft and we had a lot of teams asking how we built it and what the results are,” said Jeramie McPeek, vice president of digital operations for the Suns. “There are so many digital channels available to us, so the meeting was about how to figure out which are the ones for us to focus on and what are the biggest returns.”

Another area of emphasis was how to improve game-day content on their respective websites to increase traffic.

“We discussed what is the typical game-day content cycle and how to engage fans from the morning of the game through the postgame,” Allen said.

For McPeek and other team executives, having the meeting in the offseason allowed for the exchange of digital business strategies while also providing time for any initiatives to be implemented.

“As a Suns employee and fan, I hate the Lakers and the Spurs — but love getting together with my counterparts, and we learn a lot from each other,” he said.

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