NBA Partners with Microsoft to Put Fans in the Stands

Posted on July 25, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft 365 with 9 Comments

The NBA is set to restart its 2019-2020 basketball season this week, and it will use Microsoft Teams to put virtual fans in the stands.

“The 2019-2020 [NBA] season is set to restart on July 30th in Orlando, without any fans in attendance,” Microsoft corporate vice president Jared Spataro announced. “Realizing it needed to reimagine a way to connect fans and players virtually, the NBA turned to Microsoft Teams.”

The NBA and Microsoft announced their partnership in April, explaining at the time that they would collaborate on next-generation experiences for basketball fans that include “a new fan engagement platform offering personalized, live, and on-demand game broadcasts; historical video archives; and unique insights and analysis for NBA fans, coaches, and broadcasters.” But this week’s announcement provides a first concrete look at one way in which Microsoft can help the sport.

Thanks to Microsoft Teams’ Together mode feature, the NBA will simulate crowds of attendees at the coming NBA games. But the fans won’t be placed digitally into the stands as Fox Sports is doing with its MLB baseball broadcasts. Instead, the NBA is placing 17-foot-tall LED screens on three sides of the arena that will be digitally populated with over 300 cheering fans who will join the game using Together mode in Teams. Alongside a view of their fellow fans, participants can watch a live feed of the game right within Teams, Microsoft notes.

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