NBA Teams With Jacked for Customized Second Screens
By Carolyn Braff
For true sports fans, the second-screen experience has morphed from a luxury into a necessity. To ensure that all of its fans receive an experience of comparable quality on that second screen, the NBA has teamed with Jacked Inc. to integrate official league content into the Jacked SportsTop, a customizable game-viewing application. Jacked is building out its SportsTop for the Websites of participating teams and rights-holding regional sports networks (RSNs), providing a unique experience for each fan under a common interface umbrella.
“We were looking for a gamecasting system that would provide an in-depth interactive element to our Website,” says Ira Frankel, senior director of new marketing and media for the Washington Wizards, one of the first NBA teams to implement the Jacked SportsTop. “We thought Jacked was amazing because the platform did what we wanted to do: get a little deeper, a little more interactive, and provide fans with a closer look inside the action of Wizards basketball.”
The Build-a-Screen Workshop
The SportsTop — which is also being used by broadcasters (NBC, Big Ten Network), teams (New York Giants), and leagues (NHL) across the country — is a customizable platform that allows fans to choose from a menu of widgets that synch with their team’s game telecast in real time. Users can drag widgets — video, photos, statistics, player profiles, news, ticketing, trivia, chat, blogs — onto and off their dashboard to personalize the second-screen experience.
“What really attracted us was how each widget within the platform was customizable in its own right,” Frankel says. “You let the consumer choose what they want to see on their screen. If the consumer would rather have a chat feature, they can choose what they want rather than using a default. It’s more than just a gamecasting system; it’s an interactive element, and it’s customized specifically to the team.”
Because the SportsTop is a publishing platform, teams can add or remove widgets throughout the season, giving them a way to respond directly to fan feedback.
“The publishing platform is a common interface that is open for multiple sources of content and applications,” explains Jacked CEO Bryan Biniak. “It’s kind of a game console that you can publish different applications to.”
The application also provides pregame content, including game notes and injury reports. The SportsTop captures all of the synchronized data disseminated during the game, so fans can access the content in each of the in-game widgets after the final buzzer.
A Partnership From Beyond the Arc
The partnership between Jacked and the NBA spans three levels: league, team, and RSN.
“We effectively have a master services agreement with the league that we’ve been working on for 10 months,” Biniak explains. “That basically provides the framework for what we are going to be doing with the teams as well as select local telecasters. The agreement provides us with logos and the full range of associated intellectual property for the league and teams that we can provision through the SportsTops on the team and media-partner sites.”
With the league agreement in place, Jacked is free to execute deals with each team, using the league’s video player and ticketing widget on each site. Jacked will also target RSNs and stations, using its geo-management software to manage which fans see what.
“Part of what the league was looking for us to do is manage what is accessible by geography, both content and advertising,” Biniak explains. “There’s a balance between how advertising inventory is managed, and we needed the platform to be able to support that.”
While the league controls the national advertising, each NBA team has ownership over local advertising, which is often distributed in a 75-mile radius around the arena. Jacked’s geo-targeting technology differentiates visitors by IP address and dynamically publishes content, widgets, and ad units based on where the user is located.
“Specific content, like streaming video, is sometimes accessible only within a 75-mile radius of the arena, so fans that live within that area receive one content and advertising experience, and people outside of that circle would receive another experience,” Biniak says.
Jacked will lead national sales for the partnership; individual teams and RSNs will continue to bring in local ads. The deal is built around sharing that advertising revenue.
Each team and RSN that adopts the SportsTop can choose how to integrate it. The Wizards have set their home page to refresh into the SportsTop during games, so every visitor to the site automatically connects with the game-time experience.
“I think all teams are looking to get away from the generic interface and put in something that’s customizable for the clients, both on the sponsor side, where they can get close and geo-target the consumers, and for the fans,” Frankel says. “This provides fans with their own personal community where they can be in control.”
While working with league sites is great for Jacked, Biniak says, working at the team level allows a unique opportunity to produce the content that true diehards are looking for.
“If you’re a Wizards fan, you want an abundance of Wizards content that’s biased towards the Wizards, and I think the team is in a unique position to provide that,” Biniak explains. “One of the value points for the team and league here is, you get a common interface for all of the teams but each team can own it, control it, and tune it to the fan and the advertising base.”