This week we had the honor of chatting with Matt Arden the head of content and media at the NBA 2K League.
📝Show Notes: Throughout our conversation, we touched on the main reasons behind the launch of the NBA 2K League’s Three For All Showdown tournament, the new studio in New York, what the NBA 2K League has learned so far since the beginning of the tournament, and where the content and broadcast experience for the 3 by 3 tournament is likely to evolve in the coming years.
🚀Best Quotes: Here’s some of the key discussion points and best quotes from our conversation with Matt:
On the main goal behind launching the NBA 2K League Three for All Showdown tournament:“I think what's going on right now is obviously pretty unprecedented. So, we wanted a fun way to engage with our game during these unprecedented times. While we were encouraged to practice social distancing, it was also important that we stay connected, and we wanted to keep our players and our teams engaged and we needed a proving ground to test remote gameplay and broadcast capabilities too. And so the league came together and very quickly came up with this tournament to sort of accomplish all those goals”.
On the new studio that they built in New York: “It is exciting. It's obviously bittersweet that we haven't been able to open the doors yet, but we're hopeful we'll get there. And so when the new arena opens, we'll have moved from Long Island City in Queens to Hell's Kitchen in Manhattan, which provides so much more access for fans, teams, our partners, and media to come explore and experience our game. From a broadcast perspective, we're super excited. We've added a number of cameras. We'll have a total of 25 to 30 cameras on the floor at any given time. The studio stage, we'd like to capture and game atmosphere and dialogue between players because the trash talk in our game is pretty famous, and while we never condone bullying, the trash talk in the 2K League is pretty intense and it's a ton of fun. And so we want to be able to hear all that. We think it brings our fans closer to the game”.
On some of the new technologies in the new studio in New York: “We've got so many more exciting things. We've got a touch screen for our talent to use with play by play analysis. We've got tag board integrated this year, so social media conversations can be brought into the broadcast and the arena in real time and we can respond to them in real time. We've added a streaming pod for guest streamers and celebrities that want to come in and host or stream as well. We've added a small studio for content capture in the arena itself. So, my goal is just to make sure that that thing is ready to roll whenever we're ready to roll”.
On what they have learned so far since the beginning of the NBA 2K League Three for All Showdown tournament: “First and foremost it was just how incredible our team is and how easily they adapted to this rather aggressive new environment. I mean, they pivoted. We're 180 degrees different looking at broadcasting than we were a month ago. We turned the entire ship around rather quickly (..) One of the main things that we walked away was not only the confidence that we could produce a remote game or remote competition from both a game and league ops perspective to a broadcast perspective, but then we could do it at a really high level in a very quick turn. (..) And the truth is we continue to learn and iterate night over night over the course of the eight nights we broadcast that tournament. And we'll take all of those learnings into the regular season when we begin remote gameplay to kick off our season.(..) So not only was the Three for All tournament an incredible success just from a gameplay perspective and a fan engagement perspective, but from a broadcast learning perspective, it was not only incredibly informative, but it was a ton of fun for us to create”.
On what is needed to make sure that the fan experience is the best: “It is, and obviously with the unprecedented nature of what we're facing, I think for me it's sort of three fold. One is replicate as much as possible, the broadcast that fans have come to enjoy. We're really challenging ourselves to produce the highest quality show despite our obvious challenges. We have to have a really delicate balance between hardcore 2K game play and being really open to new viewers right now (..) And I think two for me would be the content part of it. We want more of it and we want to dig deeper into the stories that make up our league. We have some incredible personalities. The stars of our league are incredibly engaging and I think that they're a key to even greater awareness around our league.And so this past off season, we adopted an always on mentality and that's actually helped us sort of face this COVID-19 crisis because we were already in the mindset of producing content daily. (..) And the third is just this “stay connected”, from social media to the chat and both Twitch and YouTube when we're live with the addition of tag board. (..) I think going back to my original point that we learned how quickly our team can pivot. I think we'll see that as we begin to iterate our remote broadcasts as well”.
On where the content and media experience for the Three by Three tournament is likely to evolve in the coming years, starting with the virtual studio show: “ I think from the Three by Three, and even the Three for All tournament, we’ve learned one thing, which is that we were very bullish on creating a virtual studio. We felt having a home base was very important to us. And having a studio show was part of the offering that we offered in the live setting. So in a virtual setting, we should provide the same. So we rolled out a virtual studio with our friends from Live CGI, which we were very proud of it, and we look to continue in the future”.
On their plan to continue to offer more integration with their talent and personalities, and the integration of social conversations: “I think we also saw more integration of our talent and the personalities of our talent, particularly Scott Cole and Jamie "DirK" Diaz Ruiz in our broadcasts, giving them more opportunity to open up and be more a part of the broadcast and help drive the show. That was a nice unique learning that I think we'll carry forward. Certainly continuing the integration of social conversations and helping that drive the narrative of the show as well will be something we'll carry forward with us”.
On its future plan to bring back overlays as part of the experience: “One thing that we didn't use in the Three by Three that we'll bring back for the remote broadcasts and the live game play is our overlay, which we do with a company called Muxy currently, which in that offering will become a lot more robust and engaging. Including some staff feeds to allow some of our more diehard hardcore fans to follow the game a little differently than the traditional broadcast. So consumer choice, audience choice in how they watch us and learning from them as we go. I think those are the big things that we'll carry forward into season three”.