Coming next week: a new NBA primetime show — delivered over the internet — covering all the live action and storylines of the evening.
The free-to-watch streaming show, dubbed “The Bounce,” promises highlights of games in progress, live scoreboards, commentary, feature segments and behind-the-scenes footage. The show will stream regularly five nights per week – Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday – from 8-11 p.m. ET through the end of the 2018-19 NBA regular season.
“The Bounce” will premiere Monday, Jan. 21, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in a special earlier timeslot, from 5-8 p.m. ET. That’s timed to the NBA’s MLK Jr. Day slate of five nationally televised games on TNT and NBA TV. The show is hosted by Turner commentators Rosalyn Gold-Onwude, Allie LaForce and Stephanie Ready, alongside a rotating cast of analysts including former pro hoops stars Gary Payton, Swin Cash and Jason Terry.
Initially, “The Bounce” on Yahoo Sports won’t carry advertising, although under the multiyear pact ads are envisioned for future seasons.
So what’s the point?
First, the NBA and Turner wanted a bigger way to reach fans on digital — particularly on mobile — to keep them engaged in the action as it unfolds on game nights. “The Bounce” will stream live on the Yahoo Sports app on iOS and Android and the web.
One of the hopes is that “The Bounce” will drive viewers to tune in live on TV, buy tickets to future games, or even spring for the NBA League Pass live, out-of-market games package, which has been available on Yahoo since last NBA season in the U.S. In addition, Yahoo Sports is the official fantasy-game partner for the NBA, and “The Bounce” will feature fantasy-focused segments to promote that product.
“We’re not doing this simply to create a top-of-the-funnel [entry point] for League Pass,” said Geoff Reiss, GM of Yahoo Sports, although that’s partly the goal. More broadly, “on a fundamental basis, we’re trying to build products that reflect the way fans live sports… It’s building and serving our audience.”
The companies don’t expect that many viewers will watch the full three-hour nightly stream of “The Bounce.” The show will be optimized around 8-12 minute “consumption cycles,” Reiss said, comparing “The Bounce” to version 1.0 of a software product that will iterate over time.
“The Bounce” will complement the studio shows that already air on NBA TV and TNT, said David Denenberg, the league’s senior VP of global media distribution and business affairs. “We really want to try to reimagine what a studio show looks like on digital,” he said. “We want to capture the pulse of the night in a quick way that’s designed for a mobile audience, wherever they are.”
Added Denenberg, “The beauty of digital is you get instant feedback. The show you see on MLK Day will be different from what you see at the end of the season.”
Meanwhile, the NBA and Turner are continuing to produce and distribute content across multiple platforms, including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Last week, the NBA and Turner announced a pact with Twitter to live-stream the second halves of 20 NBA games that air on TNT this season featuring a single-player, isolated camera view (with fans voting on Twitter for the featured player for each game).
“The Bounce” will be co-produced by Turner Sports and Yahoo Sports from the Turner Studios in Atlanta. Yahoo, part of Verizon Media (formerly called Oath), is licensing the show from NBA Digital, which is jointly run by the NBA and Turner Sports.
Yahoo Sports also runs a weekly NFL talk show, “Mostly Football,” hosted by ex-Patriots player Martellus Bennett and co-produced with Complex. Part of the rationale for that show is to drive NFL fans to watch live games on Yahoo — supporting Verizon’s five-year deal with the NFL to distribute the full lineup of live games (with some blackout restrictions) to mobile devices in the U.S., including the 2019 Super Bowl.