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Bleacher Report Integrates Sports Betting into NBA Draft Coverage

Jun 19, 2019; New York, NY, USA; Zion Williamson of Duke speaks to the media during a 2019 NBA Draft draft prospects press conference at the Grand Hyatt. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Photo Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Bleacher Report is bringing a unique twist for covering the NBA Draft this year, aiming to challenge the traditions associated with draft talk shows.

It will host its first-ever multi-location live event around the draft, a 90-minute show that will distributed across its social and digital platforms.

The show will feature content from three separate locations: while two of those will offer B/R’s take on the more atypical draft show format, the third will be done live from Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, which will show how the draft and the subsequent roster moves affect live NBA betting odds.

“If you think about how TV does drafts – you set up a table, you put the experts behind it and (they) talk about their perspective of what’s happening,” said Sam Toles, Bleacher Report chief content officer. “We really feel ourselves being the site of a fellow fan – the way that fans experience sports as it happens in real time in their social feeds. That’s how we sort of approached it. We’re very excited to see something that can come together and will feel, I think, much more distinctively B/R than other offerings in this space.”

From B/R’s New York City studio, B/R talent Taylor Rooks will anchor a show featuring both Tobias Harris of the Philadelphia 76ers and Josh Hart of the Los Angeles Lakers. The trio will offer opinions on the impact this year’s rookie class will have in the NBA. Given Rooks’ recent ascension in the sports media world, Toles is especially excited to see her present during draft night.

At the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where the draft will be held, B/R Reporter Master Tesfatsion will be interviewing fans and providing content from their point of view, an extension of his Instagram-show “Outchea” that will be done in partnership with NBATV.

Meanwhile, at B/R’s new studio in Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, sports betting expert Kelly Stewart will provide fans with live updating betting odds for the 2019-2020 season.

“If you’re somebody who’s passionate about sports betting and is curious about how this really transformational draft season is going to change the line, I think you will find something really fascinating and never-before-seen in that segment of the show,” Toles added.

“If you want to get that sort of insight and in-depth perspective that only Taylor [Rooks] can bring in her interviews and in that live studio setting, I think that our highlights span kick ass and will be amazing,” said Toles. “If you want to know what’s going on at Barclays and feel that real time connection to the event, Masters [Testafion] will deliver that for you.”

In 2018, the NBA Draft was a huge day for B/R, something it thinks this new approach can deliver for it again this year.

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In just that one day, B/R generated nearly six million total engagements, which was nearly double its year-to-date average. It said it also led all competitors in engagement, and finished in the top 10 of Instagram’s most engaged accounts that day, with two of its most engaged posts reaching over 10 million users.

The B/R app also had one of its most busiest days on draft day last year as well. It had more than 10 million visits, which made it one of the top five most-trafficked days in 2018 and up more than 10% year-over-year.

With the hype around Zion Williamson as well as the bevy of moves around the NBA already this off-season, Toles is confident that records will be broken this upcoming draft.

“We absolutely expected that [this year] will exceed [last year’s] numbers and that we’ll have similar success across our other touchpoints,” Toles stated.

But while B/R will feature Williamson, it also sees the opportunity to tell the story of the other players who will ascend to the NBA.

One of those? Kevin Porter Jr., who was the subject of a video by B/R supervising producer Johnny Sweet that has over 2 million views on Twitter and Instagram. With other talented college stars such as Ja Morant and RJ Barrett about to enter the NBA, Toles wants the sports world to see that at B/R, every athlete’s story deserves to be heard by its fans.

“This is not just one athlete,” Toles said. “This is about sharing stories that mean something to the fans and we’re doing that as Bleacher only can do.”