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NBA Virtual Fans (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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What’s It Like To Be An NBA Virtual Fan?

NBA Virtual Fans (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – You’ve probably noticed the enormous video boards draping the NBA floors in Orlando. With fans barred from entering the arenas during the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA has provided fans the opportunity to experience the game remotely, while appearing on the video boards during broadcasts. Though players have expressed mixed opinions on seeing fans on the video boards, we wanted to know what the experience was like for someone who got to be a virtual fan during an NBA game.

Amanda Lundberg got the opportunity to watch Utah Jazz host the Los Angeles Lakers Monday night from her Salt Lake City home. The Jazz fell to the Lakers 116-108 in the game broadcast on ESPN and At&T SportsNet.

Lundberg, who considers herself a casual NBA fan said a friend reached out to her with an opportunity to watch the game and she jumped at the chance.

A friend reached out to me with the connection,” Lundberg said. “There were a few of us that were able to join. We received an email with a code of conduct to sign, then a link to join the video.” 

The code of conduct restricts participation to one virtual fan per seat. Fans are asked to refrain from using offensive language or sings on the broadcast. Furthermore, a computer is required with the Microsoft Teams application.

How was the Experience? 

If you’ve watched the broadcast, you’ve inevitably seen some of the technical issues from a broadcast perspective. The streaming quality of the fans who appear on the enormous video boards is often low and choppy. Additionally, fans who don’t sit directly in front of their cameras can have an alien appearance on the broadcast.

Lundberg said the technical issues appear on both ends, especially when using her Mac laptop.

“Macs seemed to have a harder time to stream both videos,” Lundberg said. “We had a split-screen, one with our section and the other with the live game stream. After half-time, I could only see either the game or the section, but not both. Also if two fans in the same room had their volume on there was some noise interference.

Despite the technical issues, Lundberg said she enjoyed her experience watching the game will fellow Jazz fans. Like a traditional conference call, fans can see one another in a series of video boxes, while watching the game on their computer.

“It was fun to see friends that were also in your section,” Lundberg said. “You could also talk back and forth, cheer, and applaud.”

How can you become a Virtual NBA Fan?

The Jazz are offering fans of the team opportunities to become virtual NBA fans through their social media platforms.

“For each of the four seeding games designated as a Jazz home contest (Aug. 3 vs. Los Angeles Lakers, Aug. 5 vs. Memphis, Aug. 10 vs. Dallas, Aug. 13 vs. San Antonio), the organization is holding a limited number of spots for fans to enter to win the opportunity to digitally appear live on the “Michelob ULTRA Courtside” 17-foot video boards surrounding the basketball court,” The team said in a release.

Fans interested in winning the chance to appear on the video board are encouraged to follow the team on twitter, @UtahJazz,  for more information on how to earn a spot. The video board will show 300 fans in total, including the select winners, along with some season ticket holders, Jazz Youth participants, corporate partners, and special or community guests.

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