Coverage of the NBA’s All-Star game in Orlando began tonight at 5pm ET, starting with the Sprite Slam Dunk contest, featuring the Indiana Pacers’ Paul George, Minnesota Timberwolves’ Derrick Williams, the Knicks’ Iman Shumpert, and Rockets’ Chase Budinger. The NBA is stepping up its social media coverage of the All-Star game this year, and is making some crowdsourcing-type changes to the Slam Dunk Contest, which we thought were worth quickly sharing.
This year, the dunk contest will only consist of one round, and each competitor will get three dunks, fan voting will open after all four players have performed their acrobatics. But, more importantly, for the first time ever, fans get to vote directly for the winner of the dunk contest through SMS, NBA.com, or the Twitters. To vote on Twitter, fans simply tweet their favorite player’s last name along with the hashtag “SpriteSlam.” The player with the most votes, via this new “dunksourcing” will take home the victory.
Tonight’s All-Star game also includes another “first” for the NBA and social media, thanks to TechCrunch Disrupt winner Shaker, which is, essentially, a virtual nightclub that lives inside Facebook. During this year’s All-Star game, the NBA and Shaker have teamed up to host fans from across the globe in the NBA’s first online arena. The Shaker-NBA partnership will give fans a chance to interact, chat, watch exclusive interviews and highlights, and test eachother’s NBA knowledge.
The league is also offering a bunch of updates and new channels to its GameTime mobile app to bring fans 90-plus hours of streaming video, including everything from highlights to off-the-court interviews, and shenanigans from this year’s ballers.
The NBA believes that this will be the most digital and social All-Star game to date, that is, of course until next year, says the NBA’s Vice President of Marketing, Melissa Brenner. The NBA definitely deserves credit for embracing social media, as Brenner tells us that the NBA now has over 240 million fans of the league across Twitter, Facebook, and Chinese social networks.
The league also plans to post pictures from tonight’s dunk contest on Twitter and Facebook from a special “Dunk Cam” above the backboard. What’s more, they’re also bringing back the popular “All-Star Pulse” feature, which will be keeping tabs on all the trending topics from the weekend and from tonight’s game across Twitter and Facebook.
On top of All-Star Pulse, the new “Social Spotlight” function will be displaying the top tweets, images, and videos shared by fans, presented on NBA.com. Combined, Brenner says that these features will add a whole new visualization layer to all of the social activity and buzz that happens throughout the game.
Unfortunately, the NBA will not be streaming the All-Star game live, for free, but fans will be able to watch a slew of highlights via GameTime, and, as we understand it, international fans should be able to watch the game streaming on NBA.tv.
For more, check out NBA.com here.