Live From CES: Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, NBA’s Adam Silver Discuss NBA’s Leading Status in Twitterverse

The social-media platform has become a 24/7 place for relating to the league, its teams, and players

The NBA is the largest community in the world on the Twitter platform, and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver took to the stage at CES to discuss the relationship, how the league found success, and the launch of a Twitter simulcast that involves users’ voting for which player they want to see covered live on Twitter with an iso camera.

Turner Sports’ Rachel Nichols (left) interviewed Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey (center) and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver at CES.

“How can we enrich the conversation that is happening on Twitter?,” said Dorsey. “One way was to see more angles and then have participation with users voting on who they want to see and then streaming that into the app where the conversation is. It’s complementary to the broadcast.”

Silver said that, since the NBA launched on Twitter in 2009, it has become a 24/7 place for news and more related to the league, its teams, and players.

“So much of it isn’t what is officially sanctioned but what the conversation is,” said Silver, “and it becomes a virtuous circle where journalists on ESPN and Turner are also living in that universe on Twitter.”

He noted that Twitter helps the league connect to younger audiences that may not subscribe to pay TV, giving them a chance to see pregame warmups or postgame news conferences. At an event like CES, he added, the technologies that open up new avenues for content delivery are on display.

“There are so many opportunities to experiment with as long as we protect the main feeds,” he said. “Our view was snacks and meals: we could provide snacks as long as we protect the meals.”

With more than 1 billion people somewhere in the world watching a portion of an NBA game on TV last season, clearly, there is no cannibalization from Twitter. Helping in the effort is that NBA players have embraced the platform and take their presence on TV and build on it online.

The key with the players and others involved with the NBA is to let them be true to themselves, said Silver. “I don’t encourage them to be active in ways that aren’t authentic to them. What we’ve said from NBA is, we want you to know you are safe in speaking out on issues important to you.”

When problems occur — and they do, Silver said — players understand, and the problems work themselves out as long as the players own up and acknowledge that they made a mistake.

“They recognize they are public figures, and they have the same standard as if someone walked in the locker room,” he said. “But we aren’t too heavy-handed, because then we would chill the really interesting content. As citizens, it is a good idea to participate in society and recognize they have [an audience] listening to them.”

As for Silver’s own use, he said, “I use Twitter for the NBA, politics, and in the community I live in in New York because it is about the here and now and people who want to be part of something larger and also want to know what is going on.”

Dorsey recalled the early days when Twitter started with SMS and text messaging and a buzz in your pocket with an update.

“The real-time aspect is core to almost every single thing we do, and that matches up with the public nature of it,” he said. “The real-time vibe of what people are thinking about is something we never want to lose.”

 

Subscribe and Get SVG Newsletters

  • SVG Insider (Tuesday - Friday)
  • SVG Digital Now (Monday)
  • SportSound (Monthly)
  • College (Monthly)
  • Venue Production (Monthly)