(Bloomberg) -- The National Basketball Association has launched a new app with personalized highlights, snippets of live games and other content, creating a new destination for fans and generating more valuable data for the league about its audience.
The app, which is free, seeks to capitalize on the sport’s large global fanbase that’s closely following the games on social media. On Instagram alone, the NBA has 71 million followers. It could also pose a challenge to TV shows or social media channels that have built their audience by offering game recaps or other news about the league.
The app’s debut comes just a few weeks before the new NBA regular season, which begins Oct. 18.
The goal “is to make it easier to be an NBA fan,” Christopher Benyarko, the NBA’s executive vice president of direct-to-consumer business, told reporters during a recent press briefing. He said the app was about “forming a direct relationship with fans, so we can understand them better and better.”
The product is part of a trend of sports leagues building closer ties with their audience after years of relying on TV channels or social media to deliver the action. The NFL just launched its own streaming service for watching games on mobile devices.
The idea is to get more information about fans, which can help drive other sources of revenue. The NBA hopes the app can help sell tickets to games and merchandise or entice people to play fantasy basketball. The league also created a membership program where fans can vote on jerseys and awards, and get access to additional content on the app.
The new NBA app doesn’t show full live games. Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN, Warner Bros. Discovery Inc.’s TNT and Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. pay large sums for the league’s broadcast rights. But the app will show fans some live action from key moments of games.
It could also drive more subscribers to NBA League Pass, a streaming service that lets fans watch games other than their home teams. The NBA recently cut the price of a standard subscription to $100 a season from $230. NBA League Pass will be integrated into the new app.
The app features a new docuseries called “Gold Blooded,” which tells the story of the Golden State Warriors’ 2022 NBA championship season. It will also have archival footage of famous games and content from influencers like Ben Taylor, who runs the popular YouTube channel “Thinking Basketball.”
And it will have a weekly streaming show with sports gambling information. The NBA won’t be taking bets through the app, Benyarko said. FanDuel Inc. and DraftKings Inc. are among the companies that are contributing content to the app.
The new app was created by NBA Digital, the league’s joint venture with Warner Bros., and was built in partnership with Microsoft Corp.
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