Word on the street is that the NBA and Netflix may be working together on the new In-Season tournament. Maybe Netflix can make fans care about this seemingly pointless tournament that no one asked for. It sounds like all the risk would be on Netflix while the NBA sits back and soaks up all the publicity and exposure for its new creation.
If any streaming platform can pull this off and make people care, it’s Netflix. They have done similar documents focused on golf, tennis and Formula One racing. Perhaps the most important aspect of the project is getting players to buy into it. Since most of this generation can’t keep still when a camera is nearby, you’d think this wouldn’t be a problem. Getting them to care about the actual tournament is another thing though.
When highlighting players off the court, it will be imperative that stars agree and take it seriously. Or at least players with intriguing backgrounds. Drawing an emotional attachment from people usually works. The NBA needs a way to differentiate this tournament from the rest of the season and make it appointment television. Engaging Netflix may be the best way to achieve this. Post an interesting enough story about a player or team that most have not heard of and can attract viewers.
Right now, through the first few weeks of this tournament, it feels like people are catching up and still figuring out the format. The soccer style system of grouping teams together may not be the best way to grab most American fans who are not used to this. That doesn’t mean they won’t like it, but we also know that change is hard for most people. The play-in tournament’s single-game, double-elimination format was new to NBA fans when it was introduced. Now, most of us look forward to it.
Adding these signature courses strictly for tournament play adds a different aesthetic, but isn’t enough to hold anyone over 12’s attention for long. So, this idea of the association to collaborate with Netflix on this is not a bad one. And let’s face it, if we hear about this publicly, it’s probably very close to being a foregone conclusion. The in-season tournament is commissioner Adam Silver’s baby, as he has been aiming to start it for years.
“It’s a concept that’s been buzzing around the league office for about 15 years,” Silver said. “This is not a new concept in sports. For those who follow international soccer in particular, it’s a long tradition to hold in-season tournaments… so we thought, what a perfect opportunity for a global league like the NBA, and it fits perfectly with our game .”
Knowing this, it’s not hard to see that Commish Silver will give his creation every chance to succeed. He’s likely willing to try whatever it takes, as it was something he talked about before replacing former commissioner David Stern. And if the collaboration with Netflix on this In-season tournament is successful, don’t be surprised if a special around the play-in follows.
We know that Netflix has no problem taking a risk and producing these documentaries and specials, so the NBA will be in good hands should this marriage happen. There is really no risk to Silver and the association other than the tournament being a complete failure. Failing that, they still have the playoffs and the playoffs, which are their bread and butter.
Should this in-season tournament exceed expectations (whatever they are in the NBA’s eyes), it will mean more revenue for the league and another gimmick to throw at us every fall. If that happens, it could mean faster international expansion, which the NBA already has plans for. Silver is probably hoping that the success of this tournament will make people forget how little players care about his new rest rule for missing games.