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NBA Launches Fan-Powered ‘Playmakers’ Video Network With BroadbandTV

The National Basketball Association wants to recruit the Internet’s most creative video talent to make hoops videos on its behalf — and will give them a cut of the digital coin.

The league, in partnership with multiplatform video network BroadbandTV, is launching NBA Playmakers, an online video network focused on basketball and basketball culture. The new network will distribute content on YouTube, on nbaplaymakers.tv and NBA-owned digital properties, and other platforms.

Under the NBA Playmakers program, qualified creators will have access to BBTV’s video management tools, as well as special access to select NBA footage, NBA games and special events, NBA production facilities and new merchandise. Creators will receive a share of the revenue generated by their content.

The first NBA Playmakers content will be versions of the league’s playoffs TV spot — “Every Second Counts,” featuring a track by producer and artist Timbaland — from top YouTube creators. Those will debut on the NBA’s social media channels during the 2016 Finals.

“Creating and sharing videos with others are part of being a digitally engaged fan,” said NBA VP of global media distribution Jeff Marsilio. “Our new venture with industry leader BBTV will further embrace this growing community of creators and aims to inspire original basketball content that will connect with our fans around the world.”

The NBA’s official YouTube channel has nearly 7 million subscribers and more than 3.4 billion views to date. The league has worked with BroadbandTV since April 2009, with BBTV managing fan-uploaded NBA content onto platforms such as YouTube to let the league claim ownership of those clips.

Now the NBA is looking to directly team with video creators. “The first and foremost purpose to doing this is really to engage our fans – and they’re our best marketers,” Marsilio said, adding, “Everyone stands to benefit from this financially.”

An “informal editorial committee” between NBA and BBTV will identify the best creators to work with, while anyone can apply to be part of the program, Marsilio said. “There’s an element of trust with our fan community with something like this,” he said.

Initially NBA Playmakers will launch in the U.S., but the league will expand it internationally as well. “With fans doing an in-language spin on our content, that’s very powerful for us because it takes a lot of resources to create a cultural context,” Marsilio said.

Advertising for NBA Playmakers will be sold jointly, and will tap into existing partnerships including the NBA’s current marketing partners, said BroadbandTV founder and CEO Shahrzad Rafati. The network also will have the potential to include direct sales of merchandise and branded entertainment.

Content on NBA Playmakers can be “anything around basketball culture,” Rafati said, including commentary, comedy and reaction videos.

“The NBA is very forward-thinking about its digital strategy, and we thought this was a good opportunity for us to create a community passionate about the game,” she said. “Sports is a huge opportunity to bring to advertisers, creators and fans together.”

The Playmakers multichannel network initiative is similar to Outspeak, the network BBTV launched with AOL’s Huffington Post, to host content created by millennials about politics, news, tech and other topics.

BBTV, owned by European media conglomerate RTL Group, currently generates about 15 billion monthly impressions across its network of 76,000 creators. Its brands include gaming network TGN; WIMSIC, an electronic-dance music network; and HooplaKidz, a top kids and family network on YouTube.

Earlier this month, the NBA announced a pact with YouTube to make all footage on its YouTube channel available to ad buyers through the Google Preferred premium ad network. The inventory for NBA Playmakers will be sold separately.

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