How the personalized mobile fan experience has changed the game for NBA fans

By Rose de Fremery

Basketball going through the basket at a sports arena.

Sports leagues, including the NBA, have embraced mobile technology in recent years, aiming to provide a personalized mobile fan experience that engages viewers and boosts attendance at arenas. The NBA has focused on leveraging mobility by offering Wi-Fi and boosting cellular connectivity at games while rolling out several exciting mobile apps. As Fast Company reports, the NBA is regarded as one of the most tech-savvy professional sports leagues today, fostering an entire tech ecosystem to enable timely innovation for its customers. Here’s how the NBA has changed the game for fans, empowering them to more fully experience their favorite sport in real time.

Enabling greater mobile connectivity

As every sports fan knows, nothing is quite as frustrating as being at a live game, seeing the action unfold, and being unable to share your experience with others or get to the bottom of a tricky call on your mobile device. If fans can’t connect, the NBA knows that they might disengage — or even avoid going to live games altogether. That’s why NBA teams, including the Memphis Grizzlies, have partnered with various vendors to secure enhanced Wi-Fi at their arenas, aiming to provide fans with consistently abundant and speedy connectivity. According to GeekWire, recently built stadiums, including the Sacramento Kings’ new Golden 1 Center, have been designed expressly with mobile access in mind, providing approximately one million feet of Wi-Fi and cellular coverage to fans. With a robust wireless and cellular infrastructure, NBA teams can deliver an unforgettable personalized mobile experience to their fans, using apps and other innovative mobile technologies, that keeps them tuned in and hungry for more.

Delivering a rich and personalized mobile fan experience

The NBA has rolled out a bevy of mobile apps to engage its fan base in recent years, betting that mobile app engagement will lead to increased sales and game attendance. For many dedicated fans, the mobile experience begins at the stadium. Apps now provide convenient real-time information about open parking spaces to streamline fans’ arrival at the game. Noticing that fans have increasingly been using mobile tickets to enter the stadium, teams such as the Miami Heat are requiring mobile-only entry to games, making paper tickets a relic of the past, reports CBS Miami.

In addition to providing better security for the arena and easier transfer or resale options for fans, these apps also allow basketball enthusiasts to buy food, drinks and merchandise once inside the stadium. Some apps even give real-time information on bathroom and food service lines, making it even easier to enjoy the experience without any inconveniences. This is especially important for getting fans who might otherwise watch the game from the comfort of their couch out to the stadium in person.

Once settled in, fans can access live stats and video highlights from within the NBA Game Time app. During pauses in game play, they can even shoot virtual hoops using the NBA’s new AR app, NBA AR, which is the first of its kind in the professional sports world, TechCrunch recently reported. During last year’s playoffs, the NBA give a prize to anyone who made 10 shots in a row. The league says it plans to roll out even more AR experiences for its customers in the future, further enriching the fan experience. Basketball nuts who can’t make it to the game in person can join into NBA League Pass games using their VR headsets with NextVR Screening Room, glancing at real-time graphics within the field-of-play while watching the action.

Innovating with chatbots, emojis and more

Well aware that fans reach for their mobile devices for timely information during the game, the NBA has a Facebook Messenger chatbot that can show highlights of specific players and top plays, delivering clips of the action in real time. Using new technology developed by Israeli startup WSC, the NBA can even automatically generate custom clips for certain types of plays and players — honing in on Australian NBA players, for example — and instantly delivering them to a global audience in a tidy package. The NBA has also rolled out more emojis in its NBAmoji app, providing an even more personalized mobile fan experience for people who chat, tweet and message about games on their devices. If they crave even more basketball than can be found on the court, fans can also sign up to compete with top gamers in the new NBA 2K esports league.

From the couch to the court, the NBA has a vision for mobile engagement that keeps fans engrossed and entertained at every step — and it’s just getting started. More mobile innovation is on the way, all designed to inspire fans and generate increased revenue. Basketball lovers, technologists and people who identify as both will want to keep tabs on where the league takes the mobile experience next.

Written By

Rose de Fremery


Rose de Fremery is a New York-based writer. She currently covers business IT topics such as technology innovation, mobile strategy, unified communications, CRM and marketing automation, IT management, and the virtual workforce for HP, Intel, Vonage, and IBM Mobile Business Insights.…

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