And-Ones: Technology, Ratings, L. Nash, Italy

The NBA is looking for more ways to deliver its product to fans who never attend games in person, NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum told Jabari Young of CNBC. The challenges that 2020 brought have led to revelations about involving more fans in the process and the potential of 5G technology, which is being made available in an increasing number of arenas.

Facebook is working to improve its virtual reality experience, including remotely bringing fans into courtside seats. The company’s “rail-cam” was able to move at game speed with no actual fans getting in the way. Rob Shaw, Facebook’s head of Global Sports Media and League Partnerships, said the social media company plans to utilize better camera lenses to enhance the video experience.

“If you’re going to watch a game from the front row, it has to feel like you’re watching it from the front row,” Shaw said. “… That experience is something I hope is brought to the platform in three to five years – for people around the world to be able to have the same experience as Spike Lee watching a Knicks game.”

If Facebook can sell virtual courtside seats, it would present an opportunity for advertisers to reach out to fans with personally catered messages. The NBA is also working to expand virtual signs throughout its arenas.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • The league isn’t overly concerned about its ratings decline during the playoffs, Tatum said in the same story. The NBA Finals drew the lowest viewership since 1994, but Tatum points to increased social media metrics, including billions of video views and more than 300 million YouTube views during the postseason, an increase of 63% over last year. “These are things that not only are affecting us but every other sports league,” Tatum said. “But we understand the numbers are what they are.”
  • Le’Bryan Nash, who was briefly with the Rockets in 2018, has been released by Maccabi Haifa for disciplinary reasons, according to Nicola Lupo of Sportando. Nash played just two games for the Israeli team.
  • COVID-19 continues to disrupt overseas basketball, writes Ennio Terrasi Borghesan of Sportando. The Italian government has adopted new pandemic restrictions that will require all basketball games through November 24 to take place in empty arenas.
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