The NBA is a social media league with all kinds of Twitter drama. So it makes sense that when reporters make career decisions, there is a Twitter factor.
NBA sideline reporter/host Cassidy Hubbarth chose to stay with ESPN over an opportunity with Yahoo/Turner, and there is a Twitter component.
She will begin a new half-hour Twitter pregame show called “Hoop Streams” before showcase Saturday NBA games on ABC. The shows will be live from the arenas.
Hubbarth had an opportunity to leave for Yahoo/Turner, where she could have been part of the social media show, “The Bounce,” according to sources.
While ESPN often looks for free agents from outside, Hubbarth has worked her way up the Bristol system, having started on ESPN3, which is akin to Single-A.
Now, after nine years, Hubbarth is a regular part of the big league team as a sideline reporter on the NBA and a host on college football.
With 120,000 Twitter followers, her career has grown with the NBA’s social media presence.
“My role is kind of my dream role,” said Hubbarth, who just returned from maternity leave after giving birth to her first child, a girl.
The NBA plays out on Twitter far more than any other league. Axios had a recent chart that showed LeBron James with 89 million followers on social media (42 million on Twitter and 47 million on Instagram). James has more followers than every NFL, MLB and NHL All-Star combined, Axios said.
“Anything he tweets out turns into a thing,” Hubbarth said.
The NBA also had the top eight athletes for followers on Twitter/Instagram, with J.J. Watt and Mike Trout ninth and 10th, according to Axios.
For the NBA, it doesn’t stop with the players. When the league’s top insider, Adrian Wojnarowski, breaks a story, there are GIFs and memes with him dunking over his rival, Shams Charania, and vice versa when Charania is quicker to the tweet news break.
James even tweets about Woj, Shams and other reporters. The rise of Woj and Shams has been largely fueled by stories they first broke on Twitter.
It is all a big part of the NBA Twitter reality show. Hubbarth is a part of the scene.
“You get to know the players’ personalities a lot more in the NBA,” Hubbarth, 34, said. “It is a much more intimate sport than the other leagues. There are less players. They are not wearing helmets.
“It kind of takes on a life on its own on social media. Every day there is something meme-able or GIF-able.”
Where it goes next is almost impossible to predict, but ESPN is betting on Hubbarth to be a big part of it.
“I can’t tell you what the future of media is because I can’t tell you how studios are going to look, how game broadcasts are going to look in even five years,” Hubbarth said. “It is changing so much.”
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