Daily fantasy basketball will be in the spotlight as Cleveland takes on New York in the NBA
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Cavaliers vs. Knicks Will Get Special Fantasy Broadcast From DraftKings, MSG Networks

MSG DraftKings NBA
DraftKings and the MSG Networks are teaming up to provide the first fantasy-infused NBA broadcast of its kind.

During Monday night’s game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Knicks, fans will have access to a secondary feed featuring comprehensive daily fantasy basketball integration.

DraftKings’ fantasy-infused broadcast on MSG Network

The DraftKings Fantasy Live show will air alongside MSG’s traditional broadcast. The evening’s commentary will feature five voices:

  • Bill Pidto: MSG host
  • Alan Hahn: MSG analyst
  • Wally Szczerbiak: MSG analyst
  • Julian Edlow: DraftKings contributor
  • Greg Ehrenberg: DraftKings contributor

The guys will chat over top of the same game feed, providing insight from a fantasy sports perspective.

They’ll discuss player salaries, projections and outputs, key fantasy performers for the night, and DFS strategy as a whole. The group will also offer basic information for new players who may not know how the product works. The show will be framed by significant DraftKings branding and integration.

Although the broadcast will incorporate some traditional, season-long fantasy content, it’s safe to assume most of the chatter will focus on the daily audience.

Chief business officer Ezra Kucharz commented on DraftKings’ goal for the broadcast:

DraftKings is committed to creating new opportunities through our partnerships to offer the most value to, and best experiences for sports fans everywhere. Through this broadcast, we hope to combine the best of fantasy and live sports content through a dynamic and entertaining program.

The show will be live streamed on MSG GO in addition to the televised broadcast on MSG+. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.

The partnership between DraftKings and MSG

DraftKings has an office in Manhattan, which is home to Madison Square Garden.

The two formed a landmark partnership in 2015. The deal included construction of the “DraftKings Fantasy Lounge” inside the main concourse. It also involved, official partnerships with the NHL’s Rangers and the WNBA’s Liberty.

This first-of-a-kind broadcast represents another step forward for both DraftKings and MSG. Running it during such a premier matchup is a sharp move, too.

Content as a customer acquisition tool

DFS operators are always looking for new ways to get their product in front of sports fans.

DraftKings, for instance, just rolled out live streams of EuroLeague games inside its platform. FanDuel is exploring less traditional ways to reach potential customers, too. It’s currently rolling out a series of short videos with Adam Schefter, for instance. The lightweight ads are almost indistinguishable from ESPN’s own content and appeal to the season-long fantasy community, as well.

The fact that the two DFS leaders are eager to produce ad-based content is a given. Together, they spent hundreds of millions of dollars on traditional television advertising in 2015, but that kind of ad spend is unlikely to return.

Monday’s broadcast — part informercial and part organic content — fits right into the current mold of where DFS is headed these days. MSG Networks’ Kevin Marotta gave his perspective on Monday’s event:

We are always looking for new ways to engage our fans around our live games. And with the popularity of daily fantasy sites as well as our ongoing partnership with DraftKings, we felt a big game like this was a perfect opportunity to bring something new to our viewers.

Basketball, NBA not afraid to experiment

Not much has changed in the way NBA games are broadcast over the past few decades. Commissioner Adam Silver wants to change that, though, and some forward movement is starting to show.

NBA League Pass already broadcasts select games in virtual reality, and the league is developing out 360-degree video, too. According to a report from SportTechie, much more is on the horizon.

The piece mentions over-the-top stat graphics, biometric data from wearables, and enhanced audio experiences as potential game changers for fan access to the sport. Companies who have relevant products might even be willing to pay higher fees for the rights to the broadcasts, according to Silver:

They’re laser-like focused on that, not just bidding against conventional linear television saying, ‘Can we pay a higher rights fee?’ But, ‘How can we present this in a new, different and compelling way that we create more engagement on behalf of viewers?’

All of these things are designed to bring fans closer to the game, and fantasy sports do that, too. DFS users tend to be among the most avid sports consumers, after all. And sports data goes hand-in-hand with fantasy sports.

Embedding DFS content directly into live broadcasts might draw a few eyeballs that might otherwise sweat the action another way — either through a third-party website or via a companion app like DK Live.

It all comes as fantasy for basketball has reached new highs in recent years. Big DFS contests are common nearly every night of the week.

Now, the DraftKings Fantasy Live show should give fans a small taste of what an NBA broadcast might look and sound like in the future.

Image credit: littlenySTOCK / Shutterstock.com

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Eric Ramsey
- Eric is a freelance reporter and writer primarily covering the DFS industry. He comes from a poker background, formerly on staff at PokerNews and the World Poker Tour.