The basketball governing body will continue its deal with the technology giant, Meta, to bring the sport to the metaverse in full force.
Sports outfits and associations embracing the business side of the metaverse is nothing new. Following up on its previous forays into the Metaverse and the crypto space, the National Basketball Association has announced an extension of its current collaboration deal with Meta, which will broadcast over fifty league games to the virtual world. In an agreement designed to give basketball fans a view of their favorite sport in the metaverse, the NBA will work closely with Meta, as announced on January 23rd 2023.
Fans can stream the games in virtual reality, with a partner platform called Xtadium and Meta’s Horizon Worlds ready to host the games. The Xtadium app, a popular platform where fans can enjoy their immersive experiences when watching their favorite sports, integrates well with Meta’s VR headset, Quest 2. Fans can use the headset to watch their favorite basketball stars strut their stuff.
The NBA will present fifty-two games in Meta’s Horizon Worlds, its flagship metaverse platform. A select few of these games, five in all, will be broadcast with a 180-degree monoscopic feature that adds an extra immersive layer. Users that watch these five games will enjoy a higher degree of virtual reality and will feel as if they are on the courtside. They will also enjoy different views of the game as it progresses, giving them a hyper-realistic metaverse experience.
Speaking on the partnership with the NBA, Sarah Malkin, Meta’s director of metaverse media content, extolled the advantage virtual reality technology brings and how it allows fans worldwide to share experiences. According to Sarah, Meta relishes the opportunity to get this metaverse adventure to the NBA and live basketball games.
While the most significant catch that the partnership between the NBA and Meta brings is hosting live matches in the Metaverse, the deal also presents fans with a unique opportunity to grab virtual merch licensed by the NBA. In the Meta Avatar Store, basketball fans will have a field day purchasing their favorite apparel, which they will be able to display across all social media platforms owned by Meta, including WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram.
According to Rob Shaw, the director of sports media and league partnerships at Meta, giving fans new and unique experiences using innovative technology is essential to the growth and development of sports globally. Meta’s virtual reality tech has created several means through which sports teams and fans can interact, helping to strengthen the fandom culture. With metaverse technology, fans can enjoy a new experience watching their favorite NBA teams without being physically present on the courtside.
To many onlookers, the partnership between Meta and the NBA is unsurprising, given that the sports body has explored similar endeavors recently to increase engagement and reach new audiences. In 2020, the NBA partnered with Dapper Labs to launch an NFT marketplace, where videos of some of the most significant moments in the league’s history were sold as non-fungible tokens. In September 2022, the NBA also released an NFT game in collaboration with Sorare.