LOS ANGELES, CA: The US National Basketball Association sells the experience of games, but the disparity between watching the game on television and watching it courtside is falling away, as the league experiments with new visual media following a partnership with Magic Leap.
With the growth of new ‘reality’ media formats, both augmented and virtual, properties are working out how best to integrate the systems in their media offer. At the same time, network operators are working to create the experience.
Verizon recently demonstrated some of its VR prototypes on NBA players, as reported by SB Nation, to show off the speed of its forthcoming 5G network. As much as 100 times faster than 4G internet, 5G is intended to reduce latency in the VR experience, a significant affliction of the technology since its creation in the 80s.
For sports broadcasting, depending on the perspective of the camera, latency is important to an ongoing experience. Verizon says its 5G network will be capable of single-digit millisecond latency; a blink of an eye is around 300-400 milliseconds.
Connectivity is important to the NBA’s broader strategy. Commissioner Adam Silver has made clear that he wants to explore new ways of broadcasting and watching the sport with an emphasis on making it more interactive.
The league’s adoption of technology has been fruitful for the sport where others have failed – notably in its embrace of social media, the NBA secured an indispensable marketing channel.
Since then, the league has announced a partnership with Magic Leap, the secretive and much-anticipated augmented reality startup that stunned the tech world with its seamless integration of graphics and reality.
While the partnership will not allow viewers to watch live NBA games on Magic Leap, which is expected to launch its first headset later this year, viewers will gain access to classic games and highlights.
“Eventually, the game could be available streaming on your coffee table as though you were a giant looking into the arena from above,” said Jeff Marsilio, the NBA’s senior vice president of global media distribution, speaking at Recode’s Code Media conference. “Those are some ideas, those are things that we’re working towards. [They’re] not quite ready but actually more possible than you might think.”
Sourced from SB Nation, Magic Leap, Recode; additional content by WARC staff