Recipe for Success: How the NBA Plans to Expand One of the Largest Social Media Communities in the World

Tech Summit NBA 2014 The NBA All-Star Tech Summit, which accompanies the All-Star game in respective cities each year, was host to some of the biggest names in basketball and technology last month in New Orleans.

Home to one of the largest social media communities in the world, the NBA along with industry leaders in both fields, assembled to discuss the future of the two and how basketball can keep up with technology and vice versa.

Speakers and panelists included Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, Turner Sports analyst Charles Barkley, retired player turned powerful businessman Earvin “Magic” Johnson, founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media (and sister to well-known Mark Zuckerberg) Randi Zuckerberg, local owner and vice chairman of the board for the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans, Rita Benson LeBlanc, Mark Cuban, Chairman of AXS TV and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, and co-founder and CEO of Instagram Kevin Systrom.

There was also a slew of hosts and moderators including: Ahmad Rashad, host and executive producer, One on One with Ahmad Rashad on NBA TV; Wolf Blitzer, anchor, The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer on CNN; Candy Crowley, anchor, State of the Union with Candy Crowley on CNN; Ernie Johnson, studio host at Turner Sports; John King, anchor, Inside Politics on CNN; and Sage Steele, host of NBA Countdown on ABC and ESPN.

The 15th annual, invitation-only event provided an opportunity for industry leaders to engage in a series of conversations about the future of sports, media and technology. This year’s theme was “The World is Courtside,” and featured sessions focusing on fan experience and the increasingly mobile world of sports.

The focus is on mobile NBA and bringing the most watched sport into the palm of your hand (and on every other screen available). The organization has over 500 million followers and likes combined across all league, team, and player pages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others.

At the time of the last Tech Summit held in New Orleans, six years ago in 2008, the online NBA community was not nearly as large.

One key to the success is the marriage of content and commerce or, rather, distributing extraordinary content to fans worldwide in real time. A few of the questions that the industry leaders and NBA asked were:

  • Mobile no longer refers only to handheld devices; it is evolving to include an ever-growing ecosystem of connected products.  As the world “goes mobile,” how do leading organizations adapt and succeed?

  • With more basketball statistics available in real time and across multiple devices, how can players, coaches, and fans use this data to learn more about the game?

  • Consumers are increasingly demanding premium content for free.  How do content creators, media distributors and advertisers balance consumer desire and business growth?

  • Given that consumers are engaging with many devices simultaneously while watching TV, how can we provide a connected experience across all of these platforms? about the game?

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer discussed the company's efforts to re-imagine core products and reinvigorate a culture of innovation.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer discussed the company’s efforts to re-imagine core products and reinvigorate a culture of innovation.

The NBA will expand its enormous online community of fans and basketball and tech lovers by finding a happy medium between encouraging live-streaming and viewing a game in person in addition to keeping all engaged and ahead of the curve by providing telling stats about players and the game.

Now with smartphones and stats, technology and television, and an evolving world of basketball, there’s no telling what next year’s Tech Summit will explore.

Mayer closed out the summit by talking about Yahoo’s strategic pivot to be “mobile first” and how it might be one of the company’s most untapped markets.

(Note: the summit was completely off the record; all content is from