Vice Media has teamed up with NBA Digital, the joint venture of the NBA and Turner Sports, to produce original mobile and digital programming about basketball, reported the Hollywood Reporter. As part of the deal, the media company’s Vice Sports channel will produce projects meant to reach an international audience.
“The NBA has done a great job of positioning itself at the forefront of global sports, both on and off the court, and as we continue to expand our content offering in the sports space, it’s an incredibly exciting league to partner and grow with,” said Vice Sports publisher Will Kiersky. “Exploring global youth culture and sports through the lens of NBA players will make an amazing series.”
The first project to come out of the partnership will be “The Way We Ball,” an unscripted series about the courts where players such as Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid and Denver Nuggets guard Emmanuel Mudiay got their start. The series is expected to premiere on Vice Sports and will also be available on other NBA and Vice channels.
“We’ve already begun shooting and feel that this is exactly the type of content that will engage existing fans while attracting a new wave of basketball lovers,” added Jeff Marsilio, vp global media distribution at the NBA.
The partnership comes just months after Vice laid off Vice Sports Editor-in-Chief, Jorge Arangure, as it pushed focus towards video.
Basketball players aren’t the only athletes Vice Sports has been focused on, previously the company closed a deal with the IOC to create an Olympics channel focused on telling the stories of the athletes who compete in the international event.
What does this mean?
That organizations, such as the NBA and the IOC, are realizing where the future of entertainment is headed. And, from the looks of it, streaming companies are willing to shell out the big coins to lure in them in. For example, this past May, Verizon committed to paying the NFL more than $20 million to stream one regular-season football game over the internet, and, just this month, Facebook placed a bid of $610-million for the rights to stream five years of games from the Indian Premier League, the most popular cricket league in the world. These numbers are large, but necessary when considering estimates from eMarketer that this year, there will be 22.2 million cord-cutters ages 18 and older, a figure up 33.2% over 2016. And that number is expected to keep growing. If there’s a good time to get in on the action and start locking down eyeballs, it’s now.