Bleacher Report CEO Howard Mittman Talks Plans For NBA Season
Bleacher Report CEO Howard Mittman knows when it comes to year-round sports content, the NBA is king, which is why B/R puts such an emphasis on the league. Mittman took some time to talk with THE DAILY about B/R's plans for this season. Mittman said, "The NBA season has become part of a 365-day soap opera, and we sit in the very center of that, covering storylines on everything from trades to diss tracks and everything that encompasses the world of the NBA. In the regular season, that's where the storylines of the offseason come to life and the burning questions of summer get answered." Below are excerpts from the Q&A, some of which have been edited for clarity and brevity.
Q: What are some of your plans for creating new content this NBA season?
Mittman: We're launching season two of Taylor Rooks' show. There'll be some exciting new guests on that and a revised format that we're excited about. We have a couple of things that we're doing that, at least to us, are pretty damn exciting. We have the live content studio in Vegas under our partnership with Caesars, and we have an NBA Tipoff game show special that we're shooting from there. We'll also be doing collaborations with Turner Sports and NBA talent. We have the season two debut of the House of Highlights show on Twitter, which is sponsored by McDonalds and Verizon, and we took a lot of the data and learning from year one and are looking to constantly improve that. Another thing that is a ton of fun is B/R Kicks. The stadium tunnel is the new men's runway and NBA stars are at the forefront of the fashion conversation. Our perspective is that in the NBA, fashion starts from the feet up. So, we'll have integration of B/R Kicks into TNT's "Inside the NBA," where we're launching what we're calling a "kicks cam" in the tunnel, which will showcase the star athletes' sneakers.
Q: How has the House of Highlights brand evolved?
Mittman: House of Highlights is the most disruptive brand in all of sports, full stop. It owns highlights and on the field action for a generation of sports fans, the way no other account can match. The success that we've had with that on Instagram, we've extended that out and have a really vibrant presence on TikTok, and we have an incredible business that we've built with it on YouTube. We've been able to take that brand and extend it from its original format and grow that out into a powerhouse brand. The idea here is to continue to expand the number of voices and talent that we have as broad as we can, in ways that fit with and speak to the Gen Z audience that we own. It's not a comedy site, but it's certainly irreverent. It's not a traditional sports site, but you get all the highlights that you need. The combination of those things and how we think about the brand as it expands is what you'll continue to see from us, and we'll continue to invest heavily in that.
Q: How big of a role does social media play in B/R's plans?
Mittman: Eight of the ten top-sponsored posts on Instagram were created by Bleacher Report, and that's across the entire platform, I'm not just talking sports. That's a pretty significant achievement to create those kinds of moments that matter for clients. I think social media gives us a chance to engage younger millennial and Gen Z sports fans at scale. So, thinking about that dynamic and about where they're going for information -- the fact that we're able to engage, inform and entertain -- simultaneously gives us an opportunity to curate an audience of over 200 million followers across all of our social channels. We had over 2.7 billion video views on NBA highlights during the regular season last year. On NBA tipoff last year, B/R users spent in aggregate 10 years, 9 months worth of engagement on NBA content, in one day. The way that we think about social is that it gives us an area of opportunity to provide a feedback loop back to our owned and operated channels like the app.
Q: How has the partnership with Turner played out for B/R over the last five years?
Mittman: Turner brings a lot of advantages and opportunities to Bleacher Report, and the biggest and most obvious is the rights that we get through that. But beyond that, I think it's a marriage that makes sense for a number of reasons. If you turn on "NBA on TNT," you know without a shadow of a doubt that you're watching the "NBA on TNT," because it doesn't look like or feel like or act like or deliver like anything else. We are the same way in social, and what we've been able to do is capture the fun and irreverence and intensity of the fan-first experience, and do that in a world where we're able to attract a large following of mostly Gen Z and millennial consumers. The marriage isn't just about the chocolate and peanut butter combination of television and social. That's obvious. The real secret sauce is that there's a distinct commonality between the brands that plays really well across ages and across platforms, and gives us a distinct advantage against anyone else.