Word on the street is that the NBA and Netflix could be partnering up on the new In-Season tournament. Maybe Netflix can get fans to care about this seemingly pointless tournament nobody asked for. It sounds like all the risk would be on Netflix while the NBA sits back and soaks up all the publicity and exposure for its new creation.
If any streaming platform can pull this off and make people care, it’s Netflix. They’ve done similar docuseries focused on golf, tennis, and Formula One racing. Getting players to buy into this might be the most important aspect of the project. Since most of this generation can’t seem to shut up whenever a camera is near, you’d figure that won’t be an issue. However, making them care about the actual tournament is another thing.
When highlighting players off the court, it’ll be imperative that stars agree and take it seriously. Or players with intriguing backgrounds, at the least. Drawing an emotional attachment from people usually works. The NBA needs a way to set this tourney apart from the rest of the season and make it appointment television. Involving Netflix could be the best way to achieve this. Put an interesting enough story about a player or team that most haven’t heard and could hook viewers.
Currently, through the first couple of weeks of this tournament, it feels like people are playing catch-up and still figuring out the format. The soccer-style system of grouping teams together may not be the best way to grab most American fans who aren’t used to this. That doesn’t mean they won’t grow to love it, but we also know change is hard for most people. The play-in tournament’s single-game, double-elimination format was new to NBA fans when it was introduced. Now, most of us look forward to it.
Adding these signature courts strictly for tourney play adds a different aesthetic but is not enough to hold anyone over the age of 12’s attention for long. So, this idea of the association getting together with Netflix on this isn’t a bad one. And let’s be honest, if we’re hearing about this publicly, this is likely extremely close to being a done deal. The in-season tournament is Commissioner Adam Silver’s baby, as he’s had his sights set on launching this for years.
“This is a concept that has been rumbling around the league office for about 15 years,” Silver said. “It’s not a new concept in sports. For those that follow particularly international soccer, it’s a long tradition of having in-season tournaments … so we thought, what a perfect opportunity for a global league like the NBA, and it’s a perfect fit for our game.”
Knowing this, it isn’t hard to see that Commish Silver will give his creation every chance to succeed. He’s likely willing to try whatever it takes since this was something talked about before he replaced former Commissioner David Stern. And if the collaboration with Netflix on this In-season tournament is successful, don’t be surprised if a special surrounding the play-in follows.
We know Netflix has no problem taking a risk and producing these docuseries and specials, so the NBA will be in good hands should this marriage happen. There really is no risk for Silver and the association other than the tournament being an overall failure. If it fails, they still have the play-in and the playoffs, which is their bread and butter.
Should this in-season tournament surpass expectations (whatever they are in the NBA’s eyes), it’ll mean more revenue for the league and another gimmick to throw at us every fall. If that happens, it could mean a quicker international expansion, which the NBA already has plans for. Silver is probably hoping the success of this tournament will make people forget how little players care about his new rest rule for missing games.