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Last week, the artist formerly known as The Basketball Jones announced they’re joining NBA Digital.   If you aren’t an NBA hoops fan, The Starters (as they’re now known as)  have been hosting a podcast for 2006 years and hail from Toronto, Canada.  And they are now colleagues with Emmy-award winners Charles, Kenny and Ernie.   Their name The Basketball Jones  is gone, and they are now called The Starters.  They will be taking their podcasting/video media kingdom to the NBA network.  It’s big news in the sports media world, especially for sports writers/journalists, who have aspirations to go full-time in the sports/media biz.

Their podcast  started with Tas Melas and  J.E. Skeets, talking shop about the NBA, recording at producer Jason Doyle’s house.  And now they are taking their talents to Atlanta, Georgia, home of NBA TV.

When I saw this clever video that announces the The Starters joining NBA TV, it reminded me of some of the videos we made at Machinima.  The video makes fun of The Starters, as no one at NBA TV has really heard of them (a joke), including Charles Barkley who is perplexed by their even existence.  The video feels like it came from the web, just like The Starters.  It lacks the polish of an over-edited TV commercial, looks like it was made based off improvisation, and probably took a total of 15 minutes to shoot.  Ultimately, it shows the intersection of TV and the web, where media outfits like The Starters are now rubbing their Canadian elbows, with the likes of NBA greats on TV.

This trend of content creators/makers joining bigger media companies, is an often under-looked in the media/tech world.  When a site like Bleacher Report is acquired by TBS for $175 Million, it draws attention, some positive, some not as positive.  It gets press because of the dollar amounts involved, and sheer magnitude in visitors that sites like Bleacher Report receive.

When a start-up gets acquired by Facebook, Google or a major tech company, the tech media calls it a talent acqui-hire.  In this case, the NBA pulled-off a talent “acqui-hire,” which is no less important than others in the tech world.

The BBJ did one thing well over a long period of time:  They made cool shit and put it on the internet.

When you look at what TBJ did over the past 7 years, they’ve created their own opportunities from thin air, building a network on top of themselves.  Take a look for yourself.  These are some advanced stats on their success:

  • Produced/edited/hosted/syndicate 1007 podcasts over 7 years
  • At an average of 20 minutes a podcast, that’s 20,140 minutes of content
  • Produced 335 hours of podcasts per year over 7 years.
  • If The Basketball Jones were an hour long TV drama like Breaking Bad, they’d be on season 25 right now (13 episodes a season)
  • Millions of video views on YouTube, #TBJ hashtags on Twitter, and Twitter content

The Starters are a mini-studio.  They are hosting their own shows, running their own digital marketing, technology, and community.  They’ve managed to merge marketing/biz dev/community/user acquisition/content into one entity.  By building social media  fundamentals, their team has been ‘hashtagging for years,’  and obviously they’re a talented group of dudes, but they were hired for many reasons.

They were down at SXSWi earlier in this year and they listed their ‘secret sauce’ for how they became successful.  If you have a minute, it’s worth a listen.

One notable thing to take from their SXSW anecdote is how hard they worked to be consistent.  From their talk when asked to highlight characteristics for their success:

Consistency With The Show

  • Self-discipline of doing it every day
  • Less alcohol (#ajoke)
  • Treat it like a second job
  • Make it a habit for the listeners, make sure it’s daily at noon if people expect it daily at noon
  • Letting audience if there won’t be a show if it’s usually a scheduled thing
  • Challenge yourself, keep trying new things (they did audio, then video, then went with a livestream)
  • Pretend like their boss looking down at you, and keep working
  • Create your own traffic

This is not any different than  what we did at Machinima with Respawn and Inside Gaming.  We had daily, and weekly schedules for all our content.  And we went for it all to challenge ourselves, playing video games 24/7 for months at a time, launching iPhone apps. and creating long-form episodic video content.

TBJ is part of a larger trend.  We’ll see more of these talent acqui-hires in the future, where people are building  content kingdoms.  It’s exciting to see if you’re into content and how social media is evolving into just the word ‘media.’

Full press release for The Starters + NBA Announcement

Here’s the Facebook page for The Starters.  The Starters hosts are on Twitter here:   JE Skeets and Tas Melas