Are the NBA and BroadbandTV Pulling a Tom Sawyer with New Creators Network?

These days, a top digital influencer can get paid as much as $15,000 to make a single brand-sponsored post, and lower-level social media stars are regularly getting $200-$500 per post from brands.

The National Basketball Assn. (NBA) and multi-platform network BroadbandTV (BBTV) are bucking that trend with their upcoming NBA Playmakers network, announced today. They will be eschewing upfront payments and inviting the creator community and NBA fans the opportunity to produce basketball-related content and share it across the network.

The scenario is reminiscent of the scene in Mark Twain’s 1876 novel “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” in which the orphaned protagonist convinces friends to pay him for the privilege of doing his work for him — specifically, whitewashing 800 square feet of fence. (We were hoping to make a more contemporary, SEO-friendly reference to Beyonce’s “Lemonade,” but we couldn’t figure out which party is analogous to Becky With The Good Hair.)

To be fair, NBA Playmakers will be cutting creators in on the ad revenue generated by their content — although it won’t say what their share will be — and there is undoubtedly value in associating their personal brands with one as popular and iconic as the NBA’s.

As part of the deal, content creators will have access to select NBA footage, games and special events, as well as NBA production facilities and new merchandise.

The NBA Playmakers network will also offer creators channel management strategy and support, brand integration opportunities and the ability to create personalized merchandise stores, as well as the use of VISO Catalyst YouTube audience growth technology, 30,000 rights-free music tracks and effects from Epidemic Sound, and a suite of YouTube social tools from Epoxy.

NBA Playmakers is designed to be a component of the NBA’s wider youth engagement strategy and complement its official YouTube channel, launched in 2007, which currently has more than 6.95 million subscribers and 3.47 billion views. Select videos from across the creator community network will live on a new YouTube channel, also named NBA Playmakers, that will launch later this year.

The NBA and BBTV first partnered in April 2009, when BBTV signed on to manage fan-uploaded NBA content on platforms such as YouTube.

According to BBTV, its network currently generates 15.1 billion monthly impressions and, according to comScore rankings, is the world’s largest multi-platform network and the number three video property in terms of viewers, behind Google and Facebook.

NBA Playmakers network will kick off with a diverse group of YouTube creators producing digital-native versions of the league’s “Every Second Counts” playoffs campaign. The official TV spot, featuring a new track by singer/rapper/producer Timbaland, premiered prior to the start of the playoffs, and the creator-produced versions will debut on the NBA’s social media outlets during the NBA Finals.

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