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NBA TV Tackles Off-Court Themes on New Episode of ‘Beyond the Paint’

In NBA TV’s “Beyond the Paint,” Matt Winer spotlights the Jacksonville video game tournament shooting, mental health in the NBA and StockX.

Bailey Knecht

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Photo credit: NBA TV

Those who run successful media outlets know the value in providing rich, well-rounded coverage. Turner’s NBA TV has capitalized on the hunger for meaningful storytelling with its magazine-style show, “Beyond the Paint.”

“You can get highlights a lot of different places, and our highlight shows have to be good, but there’s an awareness that you have to offer more than that,” said Matt Winer, the Turner personality who hosts the show.

“Beyond the Paint” lasts 30 minutes and dives into a variety of topics that aren’t covered on NBA TV’s highlight-style shows.

“We felt there was an opportunity on NBA TV for longer-form storytelling that, with a few exceptions of pieces that NBA Entertainment had done, we weren’t doing much of,” said Winer. “So a few years ago, I floated the idea, which evolved to ‘Beyond the Paint,’ where we tackle stuff that isn’t specifically NBA-related, but basketball-related.”

READ MORE: Sports Streaming Has Room for Improvement in 2019 

“It has nothing to do with NBA games in particular, or with stats and analysis, but it’s a different look at basketball,” he added. “My unofficial tagline that I’ve been using is that it’s a show about basketball and the people who make the game.”

Some of the show’s topics are particularly challenging, which has allowed Winer to make the most of his journalism roots. For example, in its latest installment, which airs Tuesday at 11 p.m. ET, “Beyond the Paint” features a segment on the Jacksonville video game tournament shooting.

“Not all of the stories we’ve done have been that heavy, and the show is not intentionally heavy, but it’s a different approach,” Winer said. “I’m a journalism school grad, so I tap into that training, even though it was a long time ago. Most of what I do in the studio is ‘small-j journalism,’ and not really this sort of reporting, but more of asking people about the context of teams and the league at large. This is a very different approach.”

The new episode begins with a profile on Timothy Anselimo, a professional NBA 2K gamer who survived the gaming tournament shooting. The segment highlights his recovery, during which he underwent reconstructive thumb surgery and occupational therapy to regain his mobility after a bullet passed through his hand.

“If I’m Tim, I don’t know if I’d be willing or ready to have that discussion, so we’re incredibly grateful,” Winer said. “They’re really dealing with this emotion still, and understandably so — it was a horrific experience, and it’s shaken them even more than I think Tim allowed us to see.”

Covering tough topics isn’t something Winer takes lightly, and he makes it a point to treat each story with a sense of empathy.

“There’s a sensitivity involved, with discussions to get people to open up and agree to even speak about such things,” Winer said. “You sort of walk a fine line between being sensitive and eliciting information and answers to take viewers into that experience, and that’s a tricky thing as an interviewer.”

In addition to the shooting, the newest episode features the conversation around mental health in the NBA, with a focus on recent initiatives implemented by the league.

“Basically, the infrastructure is the safety net that the NBA and the players association have put in place in wake of the disclosures by Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan and their mental health challenges,” Winer said. “Hopefully, this has removed some of the stigma and mental health issues that players and others have faced for so long. The league and players association has responded by hiring folks and putting things in place so players can get some help because, like anybody else, most are not equipped to do it alone.”

Winer acknowledged the NBA for permitting his team to take on big stories like these.

“I would say, to the league’s credit, they allow us to tackle these subjects that are not necessarily all rainbows and unicorns,” he said. “There are some difficult topics covered, and they don’t have to let us do that, but for the most part they leave us alone on that.”

A more lighthearted segment of the episode delves into StockX, a marketplace for authentic sneakers and streetwear.

“For our other piece on StockX, the basketball connection is two-fold,” Winer said. “The secondary market for basketball shoes is a huge business, plus StockX was co-founded by Dan Gilbert, the owner of the Cavaliers. So, it’s an explanation of what this business is and how folks buy shoes and luxury goods.”

SEE MORE: FanSided Turns to Emojis to Help Differentiate NBA Coverage 

Pinpointing a wide range of story topics like the ones that appear in Tuesday’s episode is a team effort, according to Winer.

“It’s a fairly small staff — for every one of us who works on this show, this is our second job,” he said. “We put out an all-call alert, and we take story ideas from anyone in the building. People can say, ‘I heard about this interesting thing in a college or high school,’ or, ‘What about this topic?’ and we consider all of those and discuss them internally with the core group to see if they make sense for our show.”

Throughout that process, Winer’s group is constantly looking to go above and beyond traditional sports coverage — a theme that Turner, as a whole, has embraced.

“These are the segments that people want, and you have to increase your footprint a bit,” he said. “You can’t just be strictly basketball highlights and analysis. We like to think we do that better than most, but the reality is, we’re not the only ones providing it… Everybody has to be versatile these days.”

Bailey Knecht is a Northeastern University graduate and has worked for New Balance, the Boston Bruins and the Northeastern and UMass Lowell athletic departments. She covers media and marketing for Front Office Sports, with an emphasis on women's sports and basketball. She can be contacted at bailey@frntofficesport.com.

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NBA, Instagram and New Era to Deliver Shoppable Championship Moment

As Instagram expands into e-commerce, it’s teaming up with the NBA and New Era to offer fans the opportunity to buy officially licensed championship gear.

Michael McCarthy

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Photo Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Sports fans are most likely to open their wallets and make an impulse purchase after their team wins a championship. As Instagram expands into e-commerce, it’s teaming up with the NBA and New Era to offer either Golden State Warriors or Toronto Raptors fans the opportunity to buy officially licensed championship gear as they’re popping champagne.

Here’s how the digital “tap to shop” promotion will work: The minute the buzzer sounds ending the 2019 NBA Finals, Instagram will instantly offer a $50 cap/t-shirt bundle for the winning team via New Era. The combo will be exclusively available on Instagram for 24 hours after the game’s conclusion. After that, the gear may go on sale at NewEraCap.com.

The 37.7 million followers of Instagram’s NBA account just have to tap on the post for details, then tap again to buy. Instead of being sent elsewhere they can handle the entire purchase within the app.

As the “authentic cap” of the NBA, New Era is currently selling Warriors/Raptors hats emblazoned with the gold “2019 NBA Finals” logo. The NBA, Instagram and Fanatics offered a similar “shoppable moment” after the Warriors won the Western Conference Finals.

“As the Authentic Cap of the NBA, we’re excited to honor the championship team with the official New Era Authentics: Championship Series Cap and Team Celebratory Tee Bundle exclusively available through the NBA’s Instagram,” says John Connors, New Era’s director of basketball. “This partnership gives us an opportunity to reach fans and provide them with product that helps them celebrate their team’s NBA championship.”

Paige Cohen, a spokeswoman for Instagram’s tech communications, notes fans “want to be part of” the winning team’s celebration. “They shop the gear, they get all decked out,” Cohen says. 

Cohen has a point, according to sports retail expert Mike May. Capitalizing on the thrill of victory can create a “financial windfall for those who have the right product at the right time.”

It can even inspire couch potatoes to put down the clicker and play the sport they’re watching on TV.

“When (fans) emotions are high there’s often a disconnect between common sense and spending — and spending just takes over,” says May, who consults for PHIT America. “It’s an interesting day and age that we live in. It gets faster. The immediacy of Instagram just adds to the festivities — and the spending.”

READ MORE: Canadian Craze Carrying NBA Finals Viewership

Instagram and New Era previously partnered with the NFL to offer a digital shopping experience during the 2019 Draft in Nashville.

The ceremonial act of young college football stars putting on the cap of their new NFL teams has become part of the NFL Draft day ritual. A photographer shot photos of the players in their New Era caps. The photos were shared to the NFL’s Instagram account, complete with shopping tags, driving fans to NFLShop.com. The caps sold for $30 to $38.

The NBA can tap into a huge pool of hoops fans on social media. The NBA’s Instagram account boasts the most followers of any pro league account. The account has drawn 11.8 billion views, and 1.3 billion engagements, this season alone. And Instagram’s new role as a digital mall keeps growing.

In March, the social media giant launched a “Checkout on Instagram” button that enables users to shop and buy products without leaving the app. Users enter their name, email, billing information and shipping address.

Over 1 billion people use Instagram every month, according to Hootsuite, with 500 million on the platform every day. Roughly 60% utilize Instagram to discover new products.

READ MORE: NBA and Twitter Team Up to Bring “Virtual Sports Bar” to Life

Sam Farber, the NBA’s vice president of digital media, said the Finals offer the league an opportunity to “test innovative initiatives” during its biggest event of the year.

With the Raptors leading the Warriors 3-2 in the NBA Finals, the series returns to Oakland for Game 6 Thursday night. If the Warriors survive, the Finals moves to Toronto for Game 7 Sunday night.

“We’re excited to partner with both Instagram and New Era to bring exclusive merchandise to fans in a new way.”

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Stanley Pup Correspondent Fetches New Fans for NBC Sports & NHL

According to NBC Sports, the Stanley Pup campaign has had more than 18 million impressions this postseason.

Ian Thomas

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Photo Credit: NHL

The multiple-month grueling road to the Stanley Cup Final annually catches the attention of the sports world. This year, one of the most dogged chroniclers of that journey has helped the league gain even more traction – Sunny, the Stanley Pup correspondent.

The idea for a Stanley Pup correspondent was the brainchild of Matt Ziance, manager of consumer engagement at NBC Sports. After seeing the way that Sunny, a labrador and guide dog in training, had captivated audiences as the official Today Show puppy, the idea of having a dog being a continued part of the network’s coverage of the NHL playoffs was spawned.

“Each year during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, we’re always searching for new, organic ways to stand out in our overall marketing messaging,” Ziance said. “While looking at successful campaigns across our properties, we saw a strong connection between our fan base and utilizing puppies in our campaigns.”

That led NBC Sports to incorporate the Stanley Pup across its broadcasts and social posts on a weekly basis. Across the playoffs, Sunny traveled more than 10,000 miles across the country while attending games in Boston, Denver, San Jose and St. Louis, as well as appearing at the network’s studios in Stamford, Connecticut – creating unique content while also finalizing his guide dog training by working in high-volume areas and new surroundings.

That content has been a boon for NBC Sports, the NHL and the reach of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. According to NBC Sports, the Stanley Pup campaign has had more than 18 million impressions this postseason across collaborations with The TODAY Show, the NHL, the We Rate Dogs Twitter account and the Guide Dog Foundation – an audience that includes many who are connecting to the Stanley Cup and the NHL in a new way.

Dan Palla, director of consumer engagement marketing at NBC Sports, said the network spends significant time in the build up to the launch of the playoffs each year thinking of “every single way we can make the Stanley Cup Playoffs bigger than it has been before.”

“The tagline we use is ‘there is nothing like playoff hockey’ – there is an inherent truth to that and every hockey fan knows that,” Palla said. “It’s also about growing the game and making the Stanley Cup Playoffs resonate off the ice, and thinking of new ways to draw people into the compelling games and the culture.”

Palla said when he first heard of the idea of bringing Sunny onto the hockey team, he said “it’s hard not to smile when you think of a Stanley Pup correspondent – we knew it was an opportunity to bring hockey to audiences in a different way that felt like a shot worth taking.”

The NBC Sports team worked with the Today Show staff to understand what worked well with Sunny in terms of content, as well as with the Guide Dog Foundation to ensure that the experience would also be beneficial to Sunny’s training.

READ MORE: Like Novak Djokovic’s Outfit? NBCUniversal Wants To Help You Buy It

The ability to capture hockey-related content with Sunny has allowed the two NBCUniversal programs to have cross-company promotion on-air as well as on social media, while also having hockey content reach new audiences. For example, the Stanley Pup correspondent was featured on the popular We Rate Dogs Twitter account, which has more than eight million followers. That also helped spark user-generated content coming from hockey fans and dog lovers alike on how their own ‘Stanley Pups’ were enjoying the playoffs.

Palla said NBC Sports has made it “mission critical” to help raise awareness of the sport and the NHL outside of the traditional ways of marketing hockey, something that he thinks has helped viewership. The NHL 2018-2019 regular season averaged 424,000 viewers across NBC Sports’ TV and digital platforms, up 2% from the previous year.

Both Palla and Ziance said the network has been thrilled with Sunny’s contribution to this year’s playoffs. While Sunny is now leaving the NBCUniversal family to become a full-time guide dog, Ziance said the idea of another future Stanley Pup Correspondent is something the network will consider not only for the 2020 playoffs, but potentially for the regular season as well.

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Twitter Doesn’t Want Sports Rights

Front Office Sports

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*This piece first appeared in the Front Office Sports Newsletter. Subscribe today and get the news before anyone else.

You can count out at least one social media company from the TV sports rights game. 

According to Max Mason of The Australian Financial Review, the company is not interested in battling for major sports rights, but wants to partner with rights holders, such as TV broadcasters, to extend their audiences and bring in more money.

Friend, not foe…

While Twitter does have deals to broadcast games on its platform with leagues like the WNBA, NWHL and more, the goal for the platform is not to be a linear TV broadcaster.

“The way that we’re approaching our business and our partnerships in the space is not to compete with rights holders. I don’t want to be a linear television broadcaster.” – Kay Madati, Twitter’s vice-president and global head of content partnerships

Bigger together…

Instead of competing with one another, Madati and Twitter want to serve as a way for traditional linear broadcasters to be able to amplify their content and drive new revenue.

“We’re here to make those events bigger by marrying the conversation that happens on our platform around those things. We’re here to actually come to them and say ‘we can make your event, your investment in this property that much bigger and that much better’.” – Kay Madati

More video is good for Twitter…

According to Mason, video has become the dominant source of revenue for Twitter, comprising 50% of money coming in.

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