The National Basketball Association has ventured into an unknown territory with the introduction of the NBA In-Season tournament, also known as the NBA Cup. This multi-stage competition is set to revolutionize mid-season basketball, promising an exhilarating experience for fans and players.
Ideated as a mid-season format to prevent tanking, resting stars during the long season, and maintaining levels of engagement with fans, we used Zoomph to measure that third focal point as it relates to social. In this blog, we will be analyzing several metric points on social media and whether they’ve increased or decreased from 2022 vs 2023 during the time frame of the play-in tournament.
One unique feature of the NBA In-Season Tournament is the introduction of vibrant and striking courts for all 30 teams. This innovative move not only enhances the visual appeal of the game but establishes a distinctive identity for the tournament. Teams flaunting fresh looks on the court contribute to heightened social media engagement, generating a buzz that resonates throughout mid-season basketball.
How Does The In-Season Tournament Work?
The tournament’s format mirrors the intensity of in-season, multi-stage competitions in other sports, creating a heightened sense of competition into the regular season. The conference-wise division into three groups of five teams each, along with the Round Robin tournament, ensures compelling matchups on Tuesdays and Fridays throughout November, before getting into the mid-season tournament playoffs in December.
What adds a twist is that these games count as regular season games, influencing both team standings and player statistics.
The knockout rounds introduce another layer of excitement, with the quarterfinals hosted by the top-performing teams from the group stage. The semifinals and championship game, set at the iconic T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip, provide a neutral ground for the ultimate showdown. The winning team not only claims the prestigious NBA Cup but also rewards each player with a substantial $500,000, adding a significant incentive to perform to their best ability.
As the NBA’s new in-season tournament finale is currently underway, the NBA hopes to continue to captivate basketball enthusiasts with its unique blend of competition and incentives. This mid-season competition aims to engage fans and boost revenue, providing an exciting narrative before the NBA playoffs begin.
League executives express optimism that this innovative tournament structure will drive increased fan engagement early in the season and continue throughout mid-season, which usually declines. In response to changing sports habits, the NBA seeks to capture the interest of a broader audience.
Did the In-Season Tournament Effectively Increase Engagement?
The introduction of the in-season tournament marked a strategic shift in the league’s approach to increasing fan engagement. Not only did they enhance the overall fan experience, but they elevated social media engagement to new heights. The tournament’s innovative format created a new sense of excitement in the regular season. The NBA created a captivating mid-season that captivated fans and followers by incorporating compelling matchups on designated days with unique courts.
By contrasting the statistics from November and early December of 2022 with 2023, a clear trend emerges, showcasing a notable surge in engagement and interaction across social media platforms.
In 2022, social media impressions totaled 12.6 billion, while in 2023, this figure skyrocketed to 21.5 billion – an impressive 70.63% increase.
As not always the case, with the rise of impressions also came an equal rise in engagements, with a total mark in 2023 of 315M engagements across all posts. This number represented a 64% rise in engagement year over year, almost matching the 70% growth in engagements.
As could be concluded, a rise in impressions and engagements almost equally helped achieve growth in social value for the league. This value represents a sign for future years the value of content to teams and brands for the in-season tournament. This season’s in-season tournament during these dates has amassed $392M in social value, with the semi-finals and championship still yet to take place. Compared to 2022, there has already been a $158M increase in social value generated, a value prop that all brands should be aware of and take advantage of to maximize their partnership in the sport.
These numbers show a significant growth in the reach of the NBA’s social media content during the mid-season of 2023 compared to 2022. The tournament’s introduction not only showcases the league’s commitment to innovation but also catalyzes increased engagement on social media. With the follower interaction rate increasing by 1058.44%, the NBA has proven that it can capture attention and enthusiasm worldwide and fuel excitement around basketball. As the NBA strives for more groundbreaking initiatives, the league reinforces its commitment to being at the forefront of sports and solidifies its position as a global entertainer. The exponential growth in impressions, engagement, and social value reveals the league’s ability to evolve with the ever-changing landscape of fan engagement.
In short, the in-season NBA tournament emerged as a game-changer, elevating the on-court competition, while significantly increasing the leagues presence and interaction on social media. The noteworthy surge in mid season social media stats for 2023, compared to the previous year, shows the tournament’s impact in fostering a more engaged and interactive NBA community. With the viewership and engagement being up from what the NBA is used to, we can expect to see the in-season tournament next year!