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NBA Will Put Real Fans in Fake Seats for Season Restart

Around 300 virtual spectators will be “present” inside the Orlando bubble each game

Rather than piping in fake crowd noise, the NBA will insert real fans into digitally-created seats when the league resumes its season next week.

More than 300 NBA fans each game will be invited to appear live on 17-foot video boards that will surround the court at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, where the remainder of the season and the playoffs will be held.

The NBA will use Microsoft’s “Together Mode” to remove the participating fans from their individual backgrounds and replace them with “seats” to make it appear as if they’re in the stadium and give the players some sense of fan appreciation.

You can see how it will look in the photos below:

Additionally, game broadcasts on ESPN and Turner will include extra camera angles and increased sound. More than 30 cameras, including many in robotic form, will be repositioned closer to the court and showcase never-before-seen camera angles in places that are otherwise not accessible with fans in the arena.  Microphones around the court will capture enhanced sounds from the floor, including sneaker squeaks and ball bounces. DJs and announcers will be in-venue to help replicate the sounds and experiences teams are accustomed to in-arena.

“Working with our broadcast and technology partners, we are excited to unveil a series of enhancements that will bring fans closer to the game and allow them to personalize their viewing experience,” Sara Zuckert, NBA Head of Next Gen Telecast, said. “Our goal is to create an enjoyable and immersive experience where fans can engage with each other and maintain a sense of community as we restart the season under these unique and challenging circumstances.”

NBA Digital, jointly managed by the NBA and Turner Sports, will provide customized viewing options on NBA League Pass and NBA TV via the NBA App and NBA.com. Fans will have access to alternate feeds with new camera angles, enhanced graphics, gaming options, in-language and influencers calling the game with a focus on areas such as analytics, fashion and music.

The NBA season resumes on Thursday, July 30.