Players Turned Streamers Will Save The NBA From a Content Blackhole
Updated: Mar 19
The new, and hopefully temporary, reality for many Americans is isolation thanks to the spread of COVID-19. Of course, this includes athletes, so major sports leagues across America, Europe and other parts of the world have come screeching to a halt. Avid sports fans like us are now left without a product to consume. We are also without a certain timeline on when leagues will be reinstated. The NBA had initially said operations would be suspended for just 30 days, but that estimate has already risen to at least 2 months. Other leagues are in similar situations. As the NBA is stuck in the void, so are its players. Enter video games.
I know that the Sun's have announced they will be mirroring the rest of the 2020 NBA season through NBA 2K20. This will at least generate some content for the teams, but personally this is not very interesting to me. A fake game with virtual players will not keep me interested. That is why I am way more interested on what the individual players are doing during this time.
Most NBA players have not had this much free time since they left college. As a professional college student myself, I can vouch for the fact that I spend too much time with a controller in my hand. Many NBA players likely game casually even when their full time job is not suspended, but now is the time for them to dive into their consoles. Specifically, NBA players should start streaming. Some trailblazing NBA players, like Josh Hart, have been on Twitch for a couple of years now, and he wants everyone to know.
Devin Booker was actually streaming himself play Call of Duty when the news broke that the NBA had been suspended. He is visibly stunned, but he continues soldiering through the map regardless. He did end the stream immediately after the round ended though.
NBA players are first and foremost athletes, but they are also entertainers. Now, they do not even have to be good at what they do to entertain fans. They just have to put their face on a camera and maybe add some humor or listen to good music, and thousands of people laying in their beds will tune in. I remember back in the peak of Fortnite hysteria about two years, I constantly saw clips of athletes hitting sniper headshots and posting their victories. Now, it will not be the game that drives traffic, but the athlete. Twitch will become a Gen Z paradise of choice and action. Therefore, the NBA should look to capitalize on this. One idea I have is tournaments between the teams in all types of games. Imagine the Knicks winning their first championship since the 1970s, but it is in FIFA, with Frank Ntilikina banging in a hat trick to send every Knicks fan into a frenzy. Now imagine watching it live. It obviously is no replacement for the NBA, but these are shaping up to be desperate times with fans craving any content at all. Businesses could also wiggle their way into the athlete streaming business. Partnerships with athletes or specific games could help to produce some revenue. The NBA today is a player driven league, so it is only logical that the players are best positioned to be the saving grace for the NBA and its partners during this indefinite suspension.