- The NBA and its data analytics partner SAP released an episode of a reality show, "GM School," in which "data-hungry, die-hard basketball fans" competed to see if they have the skills to be an NBA general manager, according to an SAP Sports news post shared with Marketing Dive.
- The show aired on NBA TV and is currently available on YouTube. Contestants participated in a mock post-game press conference, drafted franchise building blocks and selected a starting lineup. The show’s panel of judges included Kevin McHale, an NBA Hall of Famer and former coach/GM; former GM David Griffin; and, Evan Wasch, the NBA’s SVP of basketball strategy.
- The "GM School" winner was Matthew Ellis, an MBA candidate at Columbia Business School. He will receive an exploratory interview with the NBA and meetings with league executives.
Sports leagues continue seeking new ways to engage with fans, particularly younger generations, who are watching fewer live games on TV, but are looking for sports content, including stats, highlights and more, on digital platforms. Fans’ interest in stats is growing, according to the NBA. Since launching its stats platform in 2013 with SAP, the site has garnered more than 300 million page views worldwide. In the 2017-18 NBA season, the site saw 73 million page views, a 5% increase over the previous season, and fans spent more than 1.4 million hours on the site.
The NBA created "GM School" to give fans an inside look at the role of data and technology in the management of the league and what it takes to have a leadership role. Fans often enjoy exclusive access to their favorite brands. The league also likely hoped to connect with a new generation of data-focused fans and potentially recruit new talent to the league, as the data will continue to play a key role for the NBA in the future.
Fan interest in data and stats could grow with the legalization of sports betting in some states, with additional states expected to follow. The NBA recently tapped MGM Resorts International as its first official gaming partner, as part of a multi-year partnership, which will also include a digital content series and other integrations. The NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he wants NBA game broadcasts to look like live video streams on Amazon’s Twitch with integrated stats and online chat.