Our favorite fan experiences during the NBA’s COVID-safe restart in Orlando
If you’re a fan of the NBA, March 11th, 2020 will likely be a day that you will never forget, the day the NBA suspended their regular season. Four months later, fans sat idle with pipe dreams of a season restart and doubtful of the new bubble format. However, now that the season is over, with the Lakers winning on October 11th, exactly seven months after the league was suspended, the NBA not only proved their success, but also their virtual fan engagement activations. In this week’s blog, we’re focusing on our top innovative fan experiences during the NBA’s time in Orlando.
The NBA is one of the only leagues that continues to take a hands-off approach when it comes to what their athletes post on social media. With traditional media access restricted, and shorter workout schedules, players were compelled to find other ways to engage with their fans on the outside. Lakers center JaVale McGee chose to document his activities in the bubble through his own YouTube channel. These videos offer an authentic look into some of the league’s most popular teams.
? new @JaValeMcGee vlog out now! ?
JaVale gives the world a BTS look of the team’s first scrimmage game, @kylekuzma‘s birthday celebration with the team and talks with his cousin Lexi, who shares on her current battle against cancer.
check it out and more below ⬇️: https://t.co/XgtScHHfkr
— Devin Dismang (@dismayne) July 31, 2020
Another way that fans kept up with players behind the scenes is through popular Twitter accounts @NBABubbleLife and @WNBABubbleLife. Both accounts gained popularity as a result of their online player content that fans weren’t able to get anywhere else.
Through their long-lasting partnership with Microsoft, the NBA created a new innovative fan engagement experience with the inclusion of a new Microsoft Teams feature.
Excited to partner with the @NBA to reimagine the game experience with Microsoft Teams Together mode. So fans can feel like they’re together from the safety of their homes and players experience the energy of cheering fans in the arena. https://t.co/nIKmRXlasl
— Satya Nadella (@satyanadella) July 24, 2020
This new feature, Together Mode, employs the use of AI technology to bring fans together into a virtual shared background. The NBA created LED screens wrapping around the entire court that were introduced at the end of July. Another unique aspect of Together Mode for fans was that everyone made appearances at the games from fans, former and current athletes, pets, honestly you name it. Even Shaq and Snoop Dogg showed up to support their favorite NBA teams. With this new feature, communities were able to come together even while staying physically apart.
— NBA (@NBA) August 6, 2020
Michelob Ultra Courtside
The NBA’s partnership with Microsoft Teams was initially activated through the NBA’s Official Beer partner, Michelob Ultra. Introduced at the start of the season, this digital experience gave fans the chance to feel as if they were inside the arena during games, but in a virtual manner. The experience included opportunities for select fans to view extra content including 30 extra camera views, all audio content from the game including unfiltered athlete comments, and exclusive access to player interactions on the court during commercial breaks.
— Michelob ULTRA (@MichelobULTRA) September 3, 2020
Tap to Cheer
Once the NBA’s seeding games started, Twitter took on a major role in helping fans have an impact on the season through their new function, Tap to Cheer.
Don’t miss the action starting at 6:30 PM ET on ESPN. pic.twitter.com/9vhKJxIspw
— NBA (@NBA) September 15, 2020
Through Tap to Cheer, fans could vote for their favorite team through either a poll or by tweeting that team’s official hashtag emoji. The results were published on interactive video boards inside the bubble, showing the impact fans created in the venue through their continued support for the teams.
Yahoo Sports Disney Bubble
The NBA activated a new partnership with Yahoo Sports to virtually allow fans inside the Disney bubble. This was also a collaboration with the virtual reality production RYOT that gives fans a behind-the-scenes look inside the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex for 13 NBA games with Oculus devices. It also included fantasy basketball experiences and sports betting content.
NEWS: @YahooSports and the @NBA are joining forces to deliver expanded NBA content throughout Yahoo platforms, including exclusive sports betting content, immersive games in #VR for @oculus devices, gaming integrations and more. Details: https://t.co/Azc1OT4gyH pic.twitter.com/90ln4OUU9H
— Verizon News (@VerizonNews) July 30, 2020
Through their extensive list of new innovative digital fan experiences, the NBA was successful in keeping their fans engaged throughout the entire journey in the bubble. At Best.Day.Ever. we love finding new ways to stay engaged through our virtual and in-person experiences. For more information on how to keep your clients engaged, click the button below to see how Best.Day.Ever. can help you.