As the NBA Finals tipping off Thursday night, get ready to see superstars Stephen Curry and LeBron James from every angle on Twitter — although only in pre- and post-game action, not during the actual games.
The NBA and Twitter have teamed up to deliver 360-degree video content before and after each finals game between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, sponsored by Samsung. The deal marks the first time a Twitter Amplify campaign has centered around 360-video content. Users can control the view by swiveling their device or dragging the cursor over the videos.
The 360-video content, available exclusively on Twitter, is slated to include pre-game warm-ups; shots of the team tunnels before the players take the floor; the captains’ meeting prior to tipoff; and post-game activity on the court. The NBA’s Twitter account will tweet all the content, starting with Game 1, and it also will be promoted on Twitter by @SamsungMobileUS.
The deal excludes game highlights, as ABC owns TV and digital distribution rights for the NBA Finals, starting with its live broadcast at 9 p.m. Eastern Thursday from Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif.
Twitter has been eager to pump up such real-time video advertising deals, seeing live sports in particular as a huge draw for the service. In its biggest play so far on this front, the company snagged Internet streaming rights to the NFL’s Thursday Night Football games for next season. But Twitter’s growth has been sluggish compared with rivals — Snapchat now has 150 million daily users, topping estimates for Twitter — with analysts saying Twitter’s relatively confusing interface remains a barrier to attracting new users.
For Samsung, the deal is aimed at promoting not only its mobile devices but its virtual-reality products: The 360-degree videos will be shot using the Samsung Gear 360 camera. The NBA has worked with Samsung before on VR content, which included virtual-reality video from last year’s All-Star Game.
Here’s an example of what the NBA’s 360-degree video on Twitter will look like:
“We’ve been longtime video partners with both the NBA and Samsung, but this specific partnership is really interesting since it’s the first time we are utilizing a 360-degree camera to give fans an incredibly intimate look at the action of the NBA finals,” said Mike Park, director of content partnerships for Twitter Amplify.
Twitter launched the Amplify program in 2013, and now counts more than 300 TV networks, sports leagues and other content partners for the program.