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How Twitter has changed the way NBA fans watch a game

With two-thirds of its players on Twitter, the NBA is the No. 1 sports league on social media or as the NBA's senior vice president of marketing, Melissa Rosenthal Brenner, puts it, "We have over 400 million fans and followers so in terms of a population of a country, we'd be the third-largest country on earth after China and India."

LeBron James No. 6 of the Miami Heat goes up for a shot against Kawhi Leonard No. 2 of the San Antonio Spurs during Game 4 of the 2013 NBA Finals.
Getty Images
LeBron James No. 6 of the Miami Heat goes up for a shot against Kawhi Leonard No. 2 of the San Antonio Spurs during Game 4 of the 2013 NBA Finals.

While fans may use Twitter to express their love or disdain for players, the league has a much higher purpose for its engagement says Brenner.

"It's sort of classic storytelling where it's one thing to tell people to watch a game; it's another thing to show them. It's to show that, you know, LeBron just scored and the game's tied and you need to watch. Ratings is always an important component of everything we do at the league from a marketing component," she said.

During the this year's NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs the league's social media team constantly fed its fans stats, pictures and behind-the-scenes video on Twitter—all part of Brenner's tune in strategy.

"I want them to feel like they're in the locker room, courtside during the game and then they're on the team charter home," she said.

But Brenner admits it's a delicate situation. "We want to develop the right balance, the right cadence, so we're giving fans enough information that they feel satisfied but not too much that they won't go to NBA.com or watch NBA TV or watch the games on ABC, ESPN or TNT. That's something we're always looking at and always calibrating," she said.

At least this year its strategy seemed to work … the series generated more than 26 million tweets and Game 7 scored the second-biggest television audience ever for the NBA.

CNBC tells the story behind the rise of Twitter, the social media giant whose 200 million active users have made it a fixture at home and around the world. "Twitter Revolution" arrives Wednesday, Aug. 7, 9 p.m. ET/PT.

Contact #TwitterRevolution

  • Show Times

    Wednesday, August 7, 9p ET/PT



  • Carl Quintanilla is an Emmy-winning reporter and co-anchor of CNBC's "Squawk on the Street," broadcast live from the NYSE.