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NBA, ESPN Experimenting With Viewing Angles at Summer League

Jason Dachman of Sports Video Group dives into the NBA’s experiments seen on Summer League broadcasts.

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With NBA Summer League happening in Vegas, and eyeballs guaranteed from basketball fans, the NBA has experimented with different viewing angles and ways to watch their broadcasts. Jason Dachman of Sports Video Group talked to the people behind the tinkering to see how this change will improve the viewing experience.

First are the changes that those tuning in to the Vegas tournament would likely have noticed:

Over the past week, the NBA and ESPN have teamed up to live-stream several different feeds on ESPN3: SkyCam View, Summer League Live, Dueling Analysts, and Hometown Call. Most interesting, the league is also producing two full games in 9×16 “Vertical View”; intended to reach mobile-first viewers watching on their phones, they will be live-streamed internationally.

The change in mobile viewing has become a focus of experimenting, with two games shown in a new Vertical View:

“If you watch an NBA game right now on our League Pass app in the Vertical View, you’re essentially filling up only about 40% of your screen,” says Benedict. “So we thought, What if we just shot a game in 9×16 instead of the traditional 16×9? Let’s cover up viewfinders [on the cameras], frame it with bars [on the monitors] in the truck, and just shoot an entire game like that.”

And the “SkyCam” that’s been seen on regular ESPN broadcasts takes its cue from the popular NBA 2K video game:

“Our goal was to see what we could do with it in an open environment like Summer League,” says Benedict. “We know that we have full range over the entire floor, with a little bit lower depths than we normally would. We are trying to replicate that overhead view with a ‘look-and-spin’ action that you see in NBA 2K. Along with ESPN, we’re both really excited about it.”

You can read more about the league’s viewing experiments here.