Facebook Watch debuted in the U.S. in the beginning of September and is making waves in the crowded Internet video sector. One of the first shows on the Watch lineup is “Outside the NBA.” Just like the TNT postgame show “Inside the NBA,” the show features host Ernie Johnson with NBA personalities Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley and Kenny “The Jet” Smith as commentators.
This show is part of Facebook Watch’s strategy to create instant engagement with its audience. Rob Shaw, the Global Head of Sports Media and League Partnerships at Facebook, participated in a panel at SPORTELMonaco last month where he described how the show that addresses “social topics outside of just the NBA” works on Watch.
“What we love about our platform is that the consumption is live, and when that consumption occurs, suddenly you start seeing the social graph,” Shaw said. “You could go in to Watch and you’ll see hearts come up with a picture of your friend and that’s in essence their review.”
That live reaction is one of the main benefits of Facebook’s video platform. Another giant in the space is Twitch, and the live chat feature is one of the main reasons why. For many people, TV is a social experience and the chat feature is a natural extension.
“Outside the NBA offers fans an opportunity to see one of the most popular sports studio programs from a more social setting,” Shaw wrote on Facebook.
It is no surprise that Turner Sports is on the forefront of this industry. With the network’s focus on ELEAGUE, Turner has seen the opportunity in Twitch and the Internet video industry before most.
Outside the NBA benefits from the free-flowing structure allowed by Internet video. The player’s personalities shine when not constrained by TNT’s schedule or commercial breaks. The banter has more time to develop, and it creates some great moments with the All-Star panel.
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Naturally, the first two episodes are a bit stilted but the show hits its stride in episode three when it brings on WNBA champion Sue Bird. This adds a swiftness that was lacking in the first two episodes. The third episode also features an intro, which provides a much-needed framework.
Topics from the first three episodes include childhood aspirations, Halloween costumes and Shaq attempting the “Hot Chip Challenge.” Watching the Big Diesel stumble through the TNT control room looking for something to alleviate his burning mouth is where this show shines.
And in a different episode when Barkley tells O’Neal to stop picking his teeth on national TV, Shaq responds.
“This ain’t national, it’s the internet.”