NBA Eyes 5G, Hologram Technology For 2020-21 Live Games

NBA Eyes 5G, Hologram Technology For 2020-21 Live Games

As we go over potential start dates and tournament formats for the next season of the NBA, the league is now ready to redefine courtside experience and live games in a post-COVID world.

From a CNBC interview with Mark Tatum, the NBA’s Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer, it seems like the league’s plan for the 2020-21 season is still all over the place. However, Tatum confirmed that the NBA is considering new measures as early as now to recover lost revenue.

The pandemic and social unrest plaguing the world forced the NBA to postpone most of its matches last season and ban fan attendance. The league lost billions because of that. Adding to the pandemic are the deaths of former commissioner David Stern and NBA legend Kobe Bryant, as well as the 2019 $400-million feud against China.

“I would say it’s been a challenging year…It’s been our longest season in NBA history, and so much was thrown at us collectively as a league,” Tatum said in the CNBC interview.

Following the March 11 cancellation, the NBA was able to restart its season in a bubble environment in Disney World Resort, Orlando. According to early estimates, the NBA projected $1.5 billion revenue by resuming instead of canceling the season completely.

It was indeed a challenging year, but here’s the harder part—the NBA now needs to figure out the finances and salary cap for the next season. Tatum said that the NBA is currently in the auditing process, but it’s also diving deep into the new format next season to increase revenue.

The league is willing to incorporate the successful aspects of the bubble environment next season—such as the use of technology. Tatum said the league envisioned new post-COVID capabilities because of the availability of 5G technology. Many wireless carriers in the United States are already installing it in sports arenas and stadiums around the country.

Another suggestion on the table is the use of holograms. During the bubble season, the NBA partnered with AT&T to create hologram interviews during telecasts on Turner Sports and ESPN. This could open up more opportunities next season, allowing the league to create more marketing revenue as businesses could utilize teams to attract sponsorships and incorporate fan engagement.