Amid the free agent frenzy last week, the NBA opened its slate of Summer League games. NBA Digital continued to invest in the events with game coverage that included 25 Orlando Pro Summer League games as well as 67 Samsung NBA Summer League 2014 game telecasts from Las Vegas through July 21. NBA TV is carrying more than 60 Summer League games live, while all 92 NBA Summer League games will also be available via the NBA Summer League Live subscription package on NBA.com and NBA Mobile.
Cynopsis Sports spoke with NBA Digital Executive Producer Scooter Vertino about the rise in popularity of the Summer League and his production plans.
On the NBA calendar: The NBA is now a 12-month behemoth. There really isn’t an off-season from our standpoint as a partner through NBA TV and NBA Digital. The season runs its course, segue ways into the playoffs which transitions into the Finals. Then you have the chance to catch your breath for a moment before the Draft happens, followed by the free agency period, followed by the Summer League. It is an ongoing entity and it is very important for us because it is the center of the basketball universe for the days that we are in Orlando and Las Vegas. You’ll see VIPs, execs, coaches, and players all just walking in the street. It is a one-stop shop for anyone who works in the NBA.
On the growing importance of Summer League: Social media has opened the doors for some of these players. For others, for people like Andrew Wiggins, those guys are ready for prime time, at least that’s what everyone is hoping for. People want to check them out. There is another level of curiosity as well. Someone like Otto Porter was injured, while Anthony Bennett didn’t have a particularly great rookie year. Those guys are all going to play in Las Vegas so they are getting a second bite of the apple which is very cool and I think intriguing for fans of their teams.
On production: Our schedule is that best of both worlds. You’ve got your digital component for Summer League Live and then you’ve got all the live games on NBA TV. I believe we tap out at 67, which includes the tournament, which adds another level of interest to Summer League. From a manpower standpoint, we are bringing in over 50 people to work it behind-the-scenes, with close to 30 announcers to work it as well. We’ll try some things at Summer League that we wouldn’t normally try during a regular season game. For the Semifinals and the Finals, the plan is to use a steadicam that walks on the court and gives the viewer a point of view that they are not use to seeing. If there is a place to experiment and try new things, this is the place to start.
On Las Vegas: The other great thing about Las Vegas, because there are so many executives who are there, guys come by the table and we are able to get interview after interview after interview. It is a much more relaxed atmosphere and they are more than willing to sit down and talk shop. That’s fantastic for us because a lot of time those folks all have day jobs during the regular season and it is difficult to get a hold of them and this just adds another layer to our portfolio.