The NBA has been working for over two years to revolutionize the fan experience by providing more ways for them to interact with their favorite teams and players. The goal was to provide a service where each fan’s preferences were considered when deciding what information to present.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) revealed on Tuesday that the new NBA App, developed in conjunction with Microsoft (the NBA’s cloud and AI partner), had made the league’s goal a reality earlier this month.
“What makes this app unique in the sports industry is that it is a profoundly tailored experience and an all-in-one destination,” says Chris Benyarko, NBA executive vice president of direct-to-consumer. We think it’s simple to become an NBA fan on this site. It’s an excellent way for fans to feel like they’re part of the action in the league. And there’s a lot more where that came from.
A Bespoke App With International Reach
Considering that the league, team, and player accounts have a global social media following of over 2.1 billion people, providing a tailored experience is no easy feat. Every continent, time zone, language, and fan has unique tastes, whether it comes to their favorite team, player, or facet of the game.
Benyarko claims that NBA fans are not only diverse but also international, energetic, and multicultural. It’s essential to connect with fans personally, and this app gives us the chance to do just that.
Although the NBA’s vision for the future of the fan experience was clear as day, making it a reality was another matter entirely. So, you’ve decided to use Microsoft’s cloud service.
The NBA’s VP of media operations and technology, Ken DeGennaro, says Microsoft stood out because of its ability to provide a comprehensive platform to aggregate data and take action using cutting-edge artificial intelligence and machine learning. The NBA had access to Microsoft’s in-house engineers and extensive network of partners, allowing it to realize its goal.
Basketball league, says DeGennaro. What firms in the technology and broadcasting sectors do well doesn’t need recreating. Our main goal is to provide [our fans] with a unique basketball encounter. Microsoft provided the Azure platform, its features, and the availability of partners with in-depth experience.
A Broadcast Platform For Now And The Future
Like all individualized digital experiences, the new NBA App is powered by data, yet the infrastructure supporting the app’s advanced data services is rudimentary at best. It takes a lot of people, places, and things to broadcast just one game. Other forms of material arrive at varying speeds and require varying amounts of mental effort to produce. Some videos are well-crafted works that include narration, revisions, and an approved cut. Other ones are presented on a more impromptu basis.
It isn’t easy to scale to such a large volume of material and data across several time zones. In contrast, this is the standard operating procedure for NBA teams.
For us to do our jobs as custodians of the game and the fan experience, it is critical that Azure can receive very high-quality feeds, as DeGennaro puts it. When it comes to providing these kinds of streaming services, Microsoft has a cloud that is primed and ready to go. Azure and its partner network have enabled the NBA to provide its fans with the most excellent possible experience by facilitating these basics.
A Massive Data Challenge And A Huge Opportunity
This idea of a “massive flood of content” is not hyperbolic. It was important for the NBA to blend fan feedback and data about the game itself and everything that has happened through decades of NBA play to create unique and engaging experiences for each fan. Many different things, such as live and historical material, statistics, gaming strategies, and more, fall under this category.
Together, “game analytics and fan insights will allow us to produce interesting content and deliver experiences you can’t get anywhere else,” as DeGennaro puts it. Moreover, “it enables the algorithm to learn about basketball and improve over time.”
A fan’s experience might range from simply tuning in to gaining access to previously hidden statistical information. Using machine learning, one can start a snowball effect that quickly leads to a deeper understanding of followers’ viewing habits, app usage, and content reactions.
Future-proofing the NBA’s official app requires the flexibility to incorporate cutting-edge features like augmented and virtual reality. The NBA might use these technologies to improve the quality of live broadcasts and make other adjustments to the game experience.
You could, for instance, let viewers choose between multiple camera perspectives and commentators or provide live-action animations of the game, such as a first-person perspective of how LeBron James sees a play breakdown as he carries the ball up the court.
With this solid groundwork, “we like to play with anything,” as DeGennaro puts it. To us, the day of launch has always been ground zero. Aside from the stuff we’re releasing right now, we also have quite a few more things in development. The necessary technological foundation already exists in the shape of Microsoft’s Azure cloud service.
Both the NBA and Microsoft are dedicated to delivering a game that pushes basketball and technology to new heights and will impress fans.