The G-League has found the ideal broadcast partner. For the next two seasons, games will be aired on the streaming service, Tubi. On Wednesday, the G-League put out a press release announcing this new partnership that will include some original content featuring the individual players as well as the games themselves.
For those who are not familiar with Tubi, it is a free streaming service that requires no registration or download and is ad-supported. Like Netflix, Hulu, and others, it rotates old classic television shows and movies while also making original content. However, like the G-League, Tubi’s original content is not exactly NBA quality.
It has movies in the way that the G-League has basketball games. The basic criteria are met, and there will be faces that viewers recognize, but the difference in operating budgets between them and the big leagues is obvious. The games and movies can both be described as “straight to DVD.”
There is nothing wrong with that designation. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olson made a great deal of money in that lane. The key is to own it. With only so much money for salaries and production, there is no way to make up the HD to standard definition-sized gulf. Instead of wasting effort and brain power to do so, Tubi originals a lot of times use their lack of resources as a form of entertainment with over-the-top acting.
A comment often seen on social media is “What in the Tubi Original is this?” The reference is usually to some ridiculous viral video, post, or even a moment on traditional television. Yet, every once in a while a gem — let’s say a Khris Middleton — is found on Tubi like the movie, Cinnamon with Damon Wayans and Pam Grier.
Assuming that Tubi will have more natural ad breaks during the G-League games than it does with its movies, this business pairing is a win for both. The G-League just needs to lean into it. Sometimes on NBA League Pass, in-arena entertainment is shown during commercial breaks. Players could be shown reacting to the most absurd moments in the streaming service’s original films.
Maybe even some team name changes are in order. I like Capital City Go-Go and Raptors 905, but Indiana Mad Ants, if the name is going to be bad it might as well also be funny. How about the Salt Lake City Vicious Affair, or the Santa Cruz Corrective Measures?
There is room here to build a serious cult following with the G-League on Tubi. This could be how sports really gets its foothold in the streaming wars. Instead of an unenthusiastic Al Michaels calling a listless Chicago Bears vs. Carolina Panthers Thursday night Amazon matchup, why not watch a streamer and league that have much more in common than just their desire for world domination?
If this new partnership can make something fun with what people already know about these two brands, it could pay off with an indie-type fan base.