How Celebrities and Influencers Elevated the 2018 NBA All-Star Game

If you’ve been on social media recently you may know it was the 2018 NBA All-Star Game on Sunday. What you might not have realized, is that the game was primed for influencer content. Influencers ranging from celebrities to NBA superfans helped invigorate coverage of the game and ultimately paid off.

The 2018 NBA All-Star Game was the first time the association abandoned an East-versus-West format. Instead, superstars LeBron James and Stephen Curry selected teammates. This change in format is yielding to the power of influencers. Instead of designating top players from low-profile teams, fans were excited to watch their favorite superstar draft their teammates.

This ploy may have worked. According to the Associated Press, total viewership for Sunday’s game was down slightly compared to last year, although it improved over 2014, the previous time the league’s midseason showcase faced competition from the Winter Olympics.

“Turner Sports announced on Monday that the game drew an average of 7.7 million viewers Sunday night on TNT. Last year’s game attracted an average of 7.8 million viewers. In 2014 during the Sochi Olympics, an average of 7.5 million people watched the NBA’s best at the All-Star Game,” the AP reported.

According to AP, “Turner said the ratings improved among key demographics, including people between ages 18 and 34, and that video views on social media channels were up 37 percent compared to 2017.”

Could this bump in younger viewers of the NBA All-Star Game have to do with influencer content?

The NBA also hosted a celebrity all-star game, which featured 26 big name influencers getting pumped for the main event. According to a Sideqik activation, the 26 influencers published 200 posts that drove 8.2 million engagements and earned a total of $3.4 million in earned media value. Influencers ranged from pop powerhouse Justin Bieber to golf star Bubba Watson and WNBA star Stefanie Dolson. The celebrity game was held on Friday to lead up to the big showdown on Sunday.

According to Sideqik, influencers posted between Feb. 7 and through Sunday’s 2018 NBA All-Star Game, meaning they both promoted their individual event and the bigger game.

Earned Media primarily came from Instagram, but surprisingly more than $129,000 came from Twitter, where many fans were eager to share and retweet content. Facebook flagged as the least successful platform.

Unsurprisingly, Justin Bieber pulled in the most earned media with a single post receiving 3 million engagements. What he didn’t have in reach, “Stranger Things” actor Caleb McLaughlin made up for in volume. The actor posted 11 posts and earned more than $736,000 in earned media.

Did Celebrities help?

While it’s hard to say definitively if the influencer content sustained more interest in the 2018 NBA All-Star Game, it’s likely that continued presence moved some younger viewers to watch the game. Turner’s reports that younger generations were more engaged with the game could be a result of influencer action.

Influencers can go beyond promoting brands online. It’s likely that in the future we’ll see more companies using influencers to engage broadcasts and other live events through social media and beyond.

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