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YouTube teams with Durant from the NBA, upping ante with Facebook, Twitter



Kyle Mietz does not have enough with the Golden State Warriors star, Kevin Durant.

See trounce opponents of basketball stars almost 7 feet tall on the court. Follow the extrajudicial feats of the NBA star on Instagram, along with 9.2 million other fans.

And soon you'll also be watching on YouTube, where Durant's official channel has attracted 15 million views in less than a year, with behind-the-scenes training videos, candid question and answer sessions with fans (no more trolling Twitter) and charity work.

  Golden State Warriors vs. Toronto Raptors

Basketball star Kevin Durant will use his talents to provide more sports content on YouTube.


Getty Images

"We want to know what he's doing, what he has in mind, everything," said Mietz, 25, Monday at an open-air bar in Oakland, California, where he had been watching, what else? – The Warriors defeated their archrival, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Mietz is not the only one who will see Durant up close. YouTube is establishing a partnership with the player's startup, Thirty Five Media, to create more sports-related content for their site. Both YouTube and Durant's company declined to say how much money is involved in the deal or how long it lasts.

"We have many ideas as we continue to expand as a company," Durant told CNET in an email.

The agreement is the latest example of how technology companies are turning to broadcasting sports in an effort to attract people to their sites and platforms. Amazon has reached an agreement to broadcast the NFL games on Thursday night and Twitter for sports including baseball, lacrosse and football while Yahoo has hooked the rights to the NFL playoffs.

But as the prices of these offers grow-Amazon's agreement with the NFL was worth about 50 million dollars, five times more than what Twitter paid in 2016-giant social networks like Facebook have begun to negotiate with individual athletes like the lonely Marshawn Lynch to direct their own shows that generate millions of spectators. This month, the social network will direct a six-part documentary series focusing on quarterback Super Bowl winner Tom Brady, who won several other sports films.

"It has become a free service for everyone," said Adam Earnheardt, a professor at Youngstown State University who specializes in social media. "Before there were three or four networks on television competing for our attention, but now there are 200 to 300 channels online."

Add YouTube to that mix, as it seems to offer sports fans like Mietz more and more ways to see.

Still, it's not clear if the video giant owned by Google will be as successful as Facebook seems to have been. Durant's YouTube channel, for example, has more than 500,000 subscribers, much less than the 59 million people who subscribe to PewDiePie, a YouTube star focused on games, or the 33 million who are eagerly waiting for the next music video of sensational pop Justin Bieber.

In addition, Facebook apparently has a strong initial advantage. The young basketball duo LiAngelo Ball and LaMelo Ball have already accumulated 44 million viewers for the first season of their reality TV show, "Ball in the Family." The show, which also stars his controversial father, LaVar Ball, has 32 million viewers in its second season, was filmed mostly abroad after LiAngelo caused an international incident when he was discovered robbing stores in China.

Durant's fan counts may seem small now, but he's the 12th most popular athlete on social media, according to MVPindex. Ultimately, the Durant deal can be seen as low risk, high reward, said Michael Goldman, professor of sports management at the University of San Francisco.

"Fans can not get enough of a player's story," he said. "And with technology, it's all about experimentation."

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