What you need to know
- Virtual fans were shown off in the stands of an NBA practice recently.
- The experience is powered by Microsoft Teams Together Mode.
- Microsoft and the NBA announced the feature last week.
Microsoft and the NBA announced last week that Microsoft Teams will allow fans to virtually attend NBA games this season. The feature uses Microsoft Teams Together Mode and places fans across giant 17-foot tall screens. Over the weekend, we got a glimpse of the experience at a Lakers game.
Lakers beat writer Tania Ganguli shared a clip of the virtual fans during the LA Lakers' warmup on Saturday.
The virtual fans are visible to the players, which is a different virtual approach than coverage of MLB baseball is taking. Fox added virtual fans to a game over the weekend, but the fans were only visible on television. The NBA's approach allows human fans to interact with the players and cheer in real time, though it looks less natural on TV than the Fox viewing experience of MLB games.
The NBA virtual fan experience is new and seems like it needs some tweaks to appear more natural. The fans don't have a uniform camera setup, so some people appear to be different sizes than others. Some fans also have their hands cut off, so it appears like their hands are appearing and disappearing as they cheer.