As the NBA Finals get started, there’s a lot of dynasty talk. We’re here to recognize that there’s been more than one dynasty on your TV this postseason. Sure the Golden State Warriors are back in form and favored to win their 4th title in the last 8 years, but there’s an equally impressive run happening in Atlanta. Last week Turner Sports took home their 3rd Sports Emmy in the last 4 years for Outstanding Interactive Experience – Original Programming. GSW changed the game on the court, but TNT changed the game of interactive TV programming. Let’s dive deeper on their production to uncover what helps them bring home the hardware.
Inside the NBA on Thursday night’s is one of the most coveted production styles in the industry. It’s entertaining, informative, has great chemistry, and rightfully a member of the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame. Over the years they have done a tremendous job of not just building an audience, but a community. As a sub-community within the NBA Twitterscape, #InsideTheNBA is on fire before, during, and extending after the show as well. Multiple Emmy wins later maybe it all seems like a no-brainer, but as Turner Sports’ Senior Director of Social Media Partnerships, Matt Wickline, explained on #Storyteller a few years ago, it took cross department collaboration to get it started.
“What you run into typically, on most linear networks is this idea that social media is somehow competitive to the linear brands. Or, that one swims in one lane and the other swims in the other. Our creative directors got together and said how can we make each other better? How can we make Inside the NBA better? How can we make our social handles more impactful? Our team stepped up to the plate and we created content that works on air… It’s a cool story and a great example of what happens when social media and television truly see each other as additive rather than competitive entities.”Matt Wickline – Senior Director of Social Media Partnerships, Turner Sports
A few years removed from that interview and integrating the social conversation into productions is a lot more prevalent across the industry. All a little bit different, but everyone is working to move from viewership to participation. There are many productions across sports, news and entertainment doing a marvelous job at interactive programming. One key that TNT has captured, and a reason they see continued success, is their on-air talent fully embracing the experience.
“This idea of the fan being the 5th talent was integrated very early. We don’t let anyone get away with anything on the show. We’re all going to make fun of ourselves. What better way to do that than letting fans do it as well.”Matt Wickline – #Storyteller Jan. 2020
Some nights the interactive experience is so engaging it fully takes over the show and becomes the main storyline. One moment was so epic, the person who tweeted it decided they would enshrine it on a T-Shirt, so as to remember it forever. If you’re creating an interactive experience that your audience wants to memorialize forever, that’s impactful engagement.
While the Thursday night show is the gold standard, and has too many Sports Emmys to keep track of (we think it’s right around 20), it’s NBA on TNT Tuesday that has taken home the hardware for Outstanding Interactive Experience the last two years. The shows are similar at their core, but Tuesday is geared a little younger and leans into the social conversation even more in addition to tackling important topics outside of basketball. The show opens each Tuesday using the social conversation to set the scene. Spotlighting viewer posts on virtual banners in a fun way to get them excited and push them to not only watch, but to interact throughout the show. The end product is a production that highlights the creative energy inside those Atlanta studios, and a drive to continue pushing what’s possible with interactive programming.
Dynasties change the game. Your competition sees what’s working and crafts a new gameplan by integrating pieces that led to your success. We’ve seen this happen across sports, news, and entertainment, and in our somewhat biased opinion, we believe it has made everyone better. The best shows on television are the best storytellers; producing stories that are compelling, engaging, and interactive. TNT shows us that if you’re not spotlighting the voice of your audience, you’re not telling the full story.
Looking to start your dynasty run? Connect with our team and we’ll get you set up.