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Long before Influencer Marketing was founded, a group of aspiring YouTube developers came to Venice Beach, California in 2009.
Together they created "The Station" – a cast of the biggest YouTube stars of the time (Shane Dawson, Kassem G., Phil DeFranco, Dave Days, Shay Carl and Lisa Donovan). By coming together, they became the "online video version of the Brat Pack". The scenario “Rising tides lift all boats” was created through cross-promotion.
By the end of the year, The Station became the second most popular web series on YouTube. Although there was a rotating cast that left some talent, a subsection of The Station of Creators continued to work together for years. They have been renamed Maker Studios.
By the end of 2012, they were generating over two billion views a month. By 2014, Disney acquired them for $ 550 million.
Since then, the tactic of creating networks of collaboration and “Collab Houses” has been refined with each generation of creators.
In 2015, all of the top Vine talent moved to an apartment complex on 1600 Vine Street in Hollywood to work together. In 2017, infamous YouTuber Jake Paul founded Team 10, a collective of YouTubers that he personally selected to live and work together. With the advent of TikTok, a new group of developers has taken over the tactic – known as Hype House, which includes Charli D’Amelio and over a dozen others.
The tactic is proven. Living in close proximity allows developers to grow quickly and makes collaboration easier. There is no planning time and no driving around town. When creators live and work under one roof, every moment is a content creation opportunity.
The possibility of interviewing target groups leads to a 1 + 1 = 3 scenario.
Finally, we see the NBA experience their own pseudo-collab house in the form of "The Bubble". It's the NBA's ingenious solution to keeping the 2020 season alive while managing the effects of COVID-19. Players are quarantined from the rest of the world in Orlando, Florida. They will live, work, and socialize without their families or friends for the next four months of the NBA season.
Because of the proximity, players appear on each other's social media posts – promoting each other and their social media footprints exploding.
Especially Matisse Thybulle.
As a rookie of the 76s, Thybulle started a vlog series "Welcome To The Bubble". Thyben's first vlog, which shared his first day on The Bubble, went online on July 11th. Within two weeks it generated 300,000 subscribers and 4 million views.
Other star players like Jordan Clarkson, Rudy Gobert and Josh Hart have focused on playing. The three are the most famous NBA players who regularly stream on Twitch.
Gordon Hayward, a Celtics striker, has blogged his experience.
The league has always been a kind of soap opera revolving around star players. In the book Personal Foul, disgraced NBA referee Tim Donaghy wrote that (the fans) “They pay to have superstars like Kobe Bryant score 40 points. Basketball purists like to see good defense, but the NBA wants the big names to score big. "
What if the biggest stars are no longer the best players with the best skills? What if the biggest stars are the ones with the biggest online audiences?
According to the WSJ, a typical preseason game averaged 885,000 viewers last year, and Tybulle's first YouTube video has more views.
With an audience comes leverage.
The NBA should look at business differently.
Instead of focusing on the NBA as a means of selling commercials against games, look at it through a record label's lens. The NBA invests in and promotes these players. You should provide resources to players in the form of production and social media teams. Help them build their audience and get some of this IP in return and / or use it as an additional marketing and promotional channel.
The world is changing. The NBA could help itself in customizing and helping players expand their audience.
Note: A lot has happened in the NBA since I first submitted this piece. After the Jacob Blake shoot, the teams went on strike to fight for social justice. NBA players in The Bubble banded together and initiated conversations with team owners across the league on social justice issues. The players have reinforced their message and raised awareness of the cause through their own social channels. So far, players have made significant changes in the form of NBA arenas that have become polling stations for the upcoming elections.
As I mentioned above, leverage comes with an audience. In this case, the players use this audience not only for monetary gain, but also for social good.