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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Tonight's NBA doubleheader will be broadcast on TNT, which means the network will almost certainly draw more viewers than its competitors throughout the evening.

Yes, but: While the battle for the "first screen" (broadcast) has already been won, the battle for the "second screen" (social media) will happen in real-time.

Why it matters: With an increasing number of young NBA fans following the league mostly through social media, the content published on Twitter, Instagram and other platforms during games is now almost as important as the game itself.

The state of play: In 2019, 88% of Americans were using "a second digital device while watching TV," according to Nielsen. That number is likely higher for live sports — and it's absolutely higher among younger viewers.

What they're saying: "It's no longer enough to say, 'Hey, the game is at 7:30 on this channel, tune in,'" says Julian Patterson, Bleacher Report's senior director of social.

  • "There's a high likelihood that if you're watching the game on your TV, you have your phone in your hand. And you might have a laptop or tablet in your lap, too. So there are three screens competing for your attention," he added.
  • "With Bleacher Report and our other brands like House of Highlights, we're trying to create a holistic ecosystem that compliments the game experience and is interconnected between those devices."

Of note: Bleacher Report is one of the most engaging sports brands on social media. It's also owned by Turner (which owns TNT), making tonight an opportune time for the two to combine forces and own every screen.

Between the lines: While publishers like Bleacher Report and ESPN produce content during games, NBA team accounts do the same.

  • All the while, individuals like Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) — who's known for uploading clips almost immediately by filming his TV screen with his phone — are adding to the content-palooza.
  • In the end, so much content is created that one can get a fairly good grasp of what happened each night in the NBA without ever turning on a game.

The bottom line: The battle for the "first screen" is won ahead of time, and it's all about money. The battle for the "second screen" takes place on a nightly basis, and it's all about engagement.

Tonight's doubleheader: See you on Twitter (@TheKendallBaker)...

  • 7:30pm ET: Trail Blazers at Rockets
  • 10pm: Warriors at Suns

Go deeper

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
Jan 29, 2021 - Sports

Inside ESPN's pandemic-era NBA broadcast

After broadcasting games inside the NBA bubble, ESPN's production team jumped almost immediately into preparing for the 2020-21 season.

The state of play: While some games feature on-site announcers and production trucks, others require ESPN to produce the broadcast from hundreds of miles away. They call this the "Enhanced World Feed" (EWF) model.

26 mins ago - World

Netanyahu campaigns against Biden's plan to save Iran deal

Netanyahu campaigns at a gym last month. Photo: Pool/AFP via Getty

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indirectly criticized the Biden administration for its intention to return to the Iran nuclear deal and told his supporters he was prepared to "stand against the entire world" to stop it.

Why it matters: This is a major change of tune for Netanyahu, who had been careful in his statements on the Iran deal and avoided publicly criticizing President Biden. The statement was part of Netanyahu's attempt to rally his base ahead of Israel's election on March 23.

Updated 49 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Tech: "Fludemic" model accurately maps COVID hotspotsVirtual doctor's visits and digital health tools take off.
  2. Politics: Schumer says Senate will stay through weekend to vote on COVID relief — Republican governor of West Virginia says there's no plan to lift mask mandate.
  3. World: Canada vaccine panel recommends 4 months between doses.
  4. Business: Firms develop new ways to inoculate the public.
  5. Local: Ultra-rich Florida community got vaccinations in January.