NBA Turns To Microsoft Teams To Project Virtual Fans Into Empty Sports Arenas
Many people all around the world have missed their favorite sporting events due to the coronavirus pandemic, which is putting the damper on any large gatherings. Here in the United States, some sporting events are being held without fans, which certainly changes the feel for players and fans alike. The NBA is trying something to help fans and players be more connected during basketball games than they would watching games played in silent arenas. The NBA is restarting its season on July 30 and has announced that it will use Microsoft Teams to project more than 300 fans live at courtside during games.
Fans who are invited to watch the game will appear on 17-foot video screens and will be able to interact with one another. The goal is to allow fans to have the feeling of sitting next to each other without leaving the safety of their own home. While the benefits for fans are clear, there will be an upside for the players on the court as well. The NBA says that the initiative will allow the players to feel the fan energy and support.
Sara Zuckert, the head of NexGen telecast for the NBA, says that the Association is excited about its new fan experience and worked on the experience with broadcast and technology partners. Zuckert said in a statement the goal is to allow fans to engage with each other and maintain a sense of community as the season restarts. The NBA's fan experience will leverage a new Microsoft Teams feature called "together mode."
Microsoft noted in a tweet that the first game to use the new technology would be played on July 30. The court will have a 17-foot tall LED screen that wraps around three sides of the court. In the image above, you can see the faces of fans invited to view the game on the screen. The fans will also be able to watch a live feed of the game from within Teams. Microsoft says that fans tuning in from home will be able to feel the crowd energy because the virtual stands will be filled with people.
Microsoft is working hard to improve Teams during the coronavirus pandemic as many have turned to the service for access to work and education. Microsoft recently added several new features to Teams to improve the work from home video call experience.