Wednesday 19th June 2019

ESPN Innovates at NBA Summer League With Alternate Viewing Streams

ESPN Innovates at NBA Summer League With Alternate Viewing Streams

ESPN Innovates at NBA Summer League With Alternate Viewing Streams
Deandre Ayton of the Suns is guarded by Jonathan Isaac of the Magic during the 2018 NBA Summer League at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Anyone who’s played NBA video games over the past couple decades has gotten used to a familiar rearward vantage point of action. After each possession change, the game’s angle flips and spins around, and now that view change will be applied to live hoops in ESPN’s coverage of the NBA Summer League.

ESPN has been experimenting with four alternate viewing experiences for its 82-game summer schedule, one of which uses a SkyCam that will shoot the action above and behind play. That camera will flip after each basket, rebound, or turnover. Its first such appearance will be for a first-round playoff game on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. ET between the Kings and the Cavaliers.

The other three unique options that have been deployed for select games are the Hometown Live Call that will use local announcers, the Dueling Analysts that seeks to gamify broadcasts by creating competition between commentators, and what the network is calling Summer League Live. That last option will include continuous coverage from inside the arena, complete with in-venue entertainment and interactive social elements.

The four alternatives are available via streaming through the ESPN app. The league culminates in the championship game on Tuesday, July 17.

SportTechie Takeaway

There’s no better time to innovate with new viewing experiences than at the Summer League. NBA commissioner Adam Silver has espoused an interest in gameified views, such as seen on Twitch, making these attempts a natural part of the research and development phase for a league broadcast partner. NBC tried using SkyCam as the primary viewpoint for a regular season NFL game last year. That experiment received mixed reviews, but the smaller in-bounds competition space in basketball make this a better fit.

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