cleveland cavaliers nba digital series

Kyrie Irving is one of the NBA’s brightest young stars, but basketball has always been a team game. The 30 franchises that make up the league have generated a revenue pie in excess of $5 billion. The digital age has enabled this game to reach its worldwide audience anywhere, anytime. Teams can build up their own local fan base through the sundry of platforms available.

Much like our #NFLTechSeries, this time SportTechie delves into the digital strategies–from web, social media, mobile apps, and any other technological connection–of each team and analyzes them, including insights from some of the digital executives involved. Today, the #NBADigitalSeries 2013-14 continues with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Stay tuned to SportTechie for ongoing coverage of the #NBADigitalSeries.

While the Cavs’ recent irrelevance in their respective league fits well with that of other major Cleveland sports franchises, what they lack on the court has not impacted their ability to make a splash off the court.

Technologically, the Cavs are one of the premier teams in the league.  With an efficient marketing staff and a few premier partnerships, Cleveland’s influence in the digital realm might rival that of their televised performances (Second lowest winning percentage in the league since 2010? Ouch).

Since the departure of Lebron, the Cavs have spiraled downward at a staggering rate.  In his last five seasons in Cleveland, The King propelled the Cavs to reach five consecutive playoff births and two division championships, including an Eastern Conference Championship in 2007.  The new star in Cleveland is Duke alumnus Kyrie Irving, whose name may not be as globally renowned as King James, but he remains a very effective figure to digitally market.

Although not directly affiliated with the Cavaliers franchise, Irving’s video marketing campaign for Pepsi Max has received great popularity through TV and YouTube.  Irving dons a gruff, elderly exterior, such as grey hair and retro basketball shoes, and proceeds to dominate young, unsuspecting pick-up ballers under the pseudonym “Uncle Drew.”

Part one of the Uncle Drew mini-story video has reached over 31 million views alone, and both of the subsequent parts boast over 6 million as well.  Again, Kyrie’s deal with Pepsi does not directly correlate with the Cavs digital sphere, but it displays the marketability of Cleveland’s new prodigy and has increased general awareness of the franchise.

One primary way the Cavaliers organization has taken charge online is cavfanatic.com.  Separated from their official NBA.com website, Cavfanatic.com is the social media hub for the franchise and built entirely for the fan base.  Complete with fan forums, blogs, and unique groups, all fans have to do is create an account and begin connecting online to enhance their Cavs experience.

Since November 1st, Adidas has run a contest through Cavfanatic.com called Stand Out.  CavFanatic members can earn points by posting blogs, uploading pictures and videos, commenting and creating threads, and having other users recommend your content—the cap is 25 points per day.  

Each month, the top ten points earners are placed into an exclusive drawing to win the grand prize of two tickets to the Quicken Loans VIP Club and a $100 dollar gift card to the Cavs pro shop, a $250 dollar value.  The Stand Up Standings are posted and updated on the homepage of CavFanatic.com.  Individual fans can only win once per calendar year.

The effort made by the Cavs and their partner, Adidas, to actively engage their fans digitally has seemingly paid off so far, as numerous fans accumulate hundreds of points interacting with fellow Cavs fanatics.  This online strategy is an excellent approach to encourage a sense of community among the fan base when the team is struggling on the court.

As a result of their presence in social media, the Cavs have also joined the client roster of Today’s Business, a rapidly growing company that seeks to develop social media and digital advertising in a variety of industries.  Cavs director of digital content and operations, Brandon Jirousek, believes this partnership will further benefit their digital presence by increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of their online marketing campaigns.

Today’s Business provides a service that will monitor the Cavs’ social media outlets during the franchise’s off-hours.  Real time responses, professional auditing, and in-depth analysis, including trends and key performance indicator reports (KPI’s), are all included in the deal with Today’s Business.  The Cavs’ management is taking the right steps to ensure that nothing is overlooked and that resources are optimized in the digital sphere.

On a different level, the Cavs are working to promote technology among their younger fans through Tech Day, an annual event held at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.  Hosted by TRECA, a company that works to maximize the technological resources in Ohio Public Schools, Technology and Engineering Day, or “Tech Day,” is a workshop geared towards students interested in the technological professions of sports business.

Students are given a behind-the-scenes look at the entertainment side of an NBA game, with talks and live demonstrations from professionals within the Cavs organization.

Tech Day typically draws approximately 1,000 students, and price of admission is not even $30.  Not only that, but students and teachers are also admitted to a Cavs home game following the days’ agenda.  This is an excellent occasion for students interested in learning about sports technology occupations—a field expanding rapidly in the modern sports market.

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It is also important to note that the Cavaliers’ owner, Dan Gilbert, is the founder and chairman of Quicken Loans, the largest online mortgage lender in the United States.  It goes without stating that Gilbert is an established tech guru, and he has made his digital contribution to Quicken Loans Arena noticeable since his arrival in 2005.

In the past nine years, over 50 million dollars have gone into stadium renovation.  The Q now boasts modernized scoreboards, enhanced lighting, tech-savvy suites, and the latest in sound design, thanks to Gilbert’s leadership.

For all the disappointment and distress that comes with being a Cleveland sports fan, it is only fair that franchise managers attempt to give back to the fans for their unwavering support.  Fortunately, the Cavs pull through in the digital realm, providing their fans with excellent opportunities to interact and grow closer to the team.  Now, all that is needed to complete this NBA franchise is a rise out of Lebron’s tattered shadow and a rejuvenation that lands them back in the playoffs.

For Cavs news on Twitter and real time updates, use #Cavs and #AllForOne.