Nick Schupak (TBL, Chief Marketing Officer) pulls back the curtain on why fans, friends, and family members are making TBL TV “must see basketball” with game pass, team pass, and league pass streams.
Sadly enough, a number of guys have lost out on jobs and furthering their careers abroad simply because they didn’t have enough quality footage – full game footage at that – to accompany their resume. Teams need more than a pithy highlight reel to go off of these days. Then there are guys who have drawn interest from international teams and secured gigs based on front offices and coaches by being able to analyze and watch a player’s on-court ability, tendencies, and raw emotions that arise. Without streaming services and the ability to archive game broadcasts each year, a lot of guys would be left looking for work. That’s where yet another benefit of The Basketball League has come to light over the last four years with the league going all-in on live streaming games that enhances a player’s chances at taking their game to another level.
Or another country and league for that matter.
For team’s overseas, local fans, and faithful friends and family members, TBL TV has now become “must see television” and “must see basketball”. Since Panda Interactive and The Basketball League began working together in 2019 to become the exclusive streaming partnership of the league, TBL has grown from just 12 teams to 49 teams to open the 2023 TBL Season. And with TBL envisioning 88 teams across the United States and Canada by 2025, game streams and season subscriptions appear set to shoot through the roof.
Recently, Nick Schupak (Chief Marketing Officer) of TBL took time to discuss the partnership between TBL and Panda Interactive in launching TBL TV, the benefits and challenges of streaming broadcasts games for all TBL teams, and why fans, friends, and family members alike should consider purchasing a game pass ($4.99), team pass ($39.99), or league pass ($99.99) for what should be an unforgettable TBL ‘23 season.
The 2023 TBL season marks the third year of TBL TV. Can you share how the concept of TBL TV came about and how you feel year-one went broadcasting TBL games?
Being involved as the league’s streaming partner, I would say that the concept of TBL TV required no reinventing of any wheel, but rather was a fairly obvious – albeit important – pursuit for the league. Broadcasting sporting events is a basic function of any legitimate professional competition. As for my assessment of how the 2022 season went vis-à-vis the teams’ broadcasts, I’ll give you the same answer I will likely give after this season and 20 seasons from now: It went very well, and next year will go even better.
When taking on a venture like this, where do you even start? What’s most important?
My mother keeps a pithy statement from Brecht tacked to her computer screen which goes “The aim of science is not to open the door to infinite wisdom, but to set a limit to infinite error.” Using that as an analog, I take the approach that during any endeavor’s nascence it’s important to focus on the floor and not the ceiling. To such ends, we (PANDA Interactive) provide as much education and support, both offline and real-time, as we can manage to ensure that every team can, quite simply, broadcast live audio and video feeds to PANDA’s servers from their venues. Once that floor has been set, you can varnish it (commentary); you can paint it (multiple cameras); you can furnish it (cutaways, commercials, animations, sponsorships, etc.).
In other words, walk before you run. Then run fast.
TBL TV does a wonderful job not only of broadcasting games, but having either young or veteran broadcasters in each market become the play-by-play and color commentary voices of these games. How have these broadcasters helped grow TBL TV as a brand?
In the year 2023 a basketball fan has a number of expectations when turning on a basketball game. Great commentary is among those expectations. When teams have great commentators, they have a happier audience. A happier audience, of course, is a more loyal audience, and a more valuable audience. I would love to give you and your readers a more poetic summation, and I could, for in my heart I am a poet, but during working hours I’m more jaded, and so I find that a brand is only as strong as the dollars and cents it accumulates. How do you make a strong brand? Meet, and every now and again exceed, your audience’s expectations.
What kind of feedback have you received after year one that’s provided you the chance to make TBLTV better in year two?
The best TBL TV broadcasts include cameras pointing at talented basketball players playing great basketball. TBL has lots of excellent players and so one needs little more than eyes to register feedback: Did you see that baseline turnaround jumper PJ Meyers (Shreveport Mavericks) hit at the buzzer to send Game 3 of the Finals into overtime? I did. And lots of other TBL fans did, too. That was all the feedback I needed. More cameras pointed at more buzzer beaters.
Metrics and analytics is such a big part of evaluating your reach when it comes to content and broadcasts. What have you learned the most about either subscribers or viewers of TBL TV?
Metrics and analytics have their place and their use, but they’ve become akin to virtue signals. That is, many of those who ordain themselves digital marketers will regale with the vital nature of “metrics,” “analytics,” “(big) data” because it enables them to position themselves into a vast and wild universe only they belong and only they can control. I do not know how many do this consciously versus unconsciously, but far too many of them do it. You don’t need KPIs, DAUs, CTRs or MAMA to tell you that Derek Hawthorne and Ronnie Boyce produced a Magic-a Magic-and-Bird-like duel when Lebanon played Kokomo in Week 8 last season. One doesn’t need Python to understand why the Albany-Shreveport Finals were such a hot ticket. Basketball fans like to watch great basketball. My job is to help TBL’s teams deliver that great basketball to them. The players do the real work. And TBL players always uphold their end of the bargain.
TBL fans are not only spread across the United States, but also Canada as well with TBL teams there and interleague play with the NBLC. For fans who may be new to TBLT V, why should they subscribe?
It’s awesome basketball.
As far as growing TBL TV, do you look beyond this year? What’s in the future plans for TBL TV over the next three to five years for example?
I live with my feet firmly in the present and my mind 25 years in the future. Having been that way since, roughly, puberty, I have learned at least one thing: Whatever I anticipate happening is almost assured to happen differently than I’d anticipated. So I make fewer projections and fewer promises. What I can promise, though, is that there will be 49 TBL teams chock full of scary-good players. And I’ll also tell you and your readers that no lead is safe in The Basketball League. If your team is down 20 heading into the fourth, my recommendation is to get your popcorn ready.
Wendell Maxey has covered and written about professional basketball and sports for 19 years including eight years reporting on the NBA in New York and Portland where his work appeared on ESPN.com, NBA.com, USA Today, FOX Sports, YAHOO Sports!, SLAM Magazine, and The Oregonian among other publications and outlets. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn or read through his archive on Linktree.