Looking Back: How the Cleveland Cavaliers Doubled Viewership on Draft Night

Looking back: The 2020 NBA Draft may have looked a whole lot different than years past and future, but that didn’t stop the Cleveland Cavaliers from igniting excitement about the upcoming season by engaging their fans through interactive and rewarding experiences from home. 

With a good chance of drawing the top overall draft pick, the Cavaliers used the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery as an opportunity to reconnect with fans after a long offseason and hosted a virtual watch party complete with special guests, professional analysis, and live fan commentary. 

Though they didn’t land the top overall pick, the positive feedback they received about the watch party prompted the next phase of interactive entertainment: the #CavsDraft House Party

The Goal

“This year [2020] has certainly presented challenges for our team, and the NBA Draft was no different as we turned our sights from an in-person draft party to a virtual draft pre-show through our digital and social channels,” said Vice President of Digital & Web Services, Brandon Jirousek.

Building off of the success of the NBA Draft Lottery watch party, Jirousek and the Cavaliers set out with four goals in mind for this show: engage fans and build excitement for the season, grow their digital audience, drive value for their partners, and create a content library usable beyond Draft Night.

To measure fan engagement, Jirousek monitored usage of the hashtag #CavsDraft along with overall engagement on the Cavaliers’ social profiles and benchmarked it against numbers from the Draft Lottery show. Similarly, he hoped to see substantial viewership growth as the Cavs continue to build their digital audience.

In order to create a content library and drive new revenue, Jirousek and the Cavaliers looked to develop a show format that had easily clippable moments and ample sponsorship opportunities.

The Execution

When it came to showtime, the format and execution set the Cavaliers up to not only accomplish, but exceed each of their goals. 

An all-star lineup of famous local guests including Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, former Cleveland Browns player Joe Thomas, Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona, and WWE superstar Dolph Ziggler laid the entertaining foundation for the show and made for valuable snackable content after the fact.

To accomplish their engagement goal, Jirousek and the Cavaliers made fans an integral part of the programming and rewarded them for participating by featuring live fan commentary and hosting social contest giveaways throughout the show. Leveraging the flexibility of Tagboard Producer, show producers seamlessly integrated social content alongside customized branded graphics that informed and engaged the viewer.

Having the ability for our fans to participate in the show was important to us and leveraging Tagboard Producer allowed us to do just that and more through the use of the cloud-based graphics system. Maintaining our brand through multiple systems was streamlined and put us in position to focus on delivering the best show possible.” – Brandon Jirousek, Vice President of Digital & Web Services, Cleveland Cavaliers

A ticker graphic that featured social commentary from fans voicing their excitement for the draft, ex-players chiming in with words of encouragement, and special offers for fans, add a simple yet powerful layer to the show.

The social contest giveaways for autographed apparel, 60” TV’s, and more garnered the most engagement from fans and value for presenting sponsors. The giveaways rewarded fans for participation and built up positive affinity for the gift sponsors. 


The Results

The combination of high profile interview guests, interactive broadcast graphics, and live social interaction with fans ultimately led to resounding success.  With over 24K unique views, the Cavaliers saw a 100% increase in total views and a 101% increase in unique viewers from the NBA Draft Lottery watch party. 

Fans not only tuned in, but they watched longer and engaged directly with the team at a higher rate. With a growth of 67.81% in total minutes watched, and a 300% increase in the use of the #CavsDraft hashtag that garnered over 17M impressions and 740K engagements, Jirousek and the Cavaliers exceeded each of their goals. 

The level of audience engagement and growth of their digital audience not only gave presenting sponsors Rocket Mortgage and Panini strong value from this show, but it adds value for future livestream programming as well.

Looking to learn more about how you could make your next show more engaging and interactive? Reach out to us or schedule your demo today!