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Volume 27 No. 7
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NBA TV Broadcasts Off To Solid Start, But Some Tweaks Needed

The NBA and its TV partners should get "credit for creating an atmosphere that limits the oddness" of the league's fanless restart in Orlando, as it "could be a much worse experience, and it's likely to improve," according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA TODAY. During Thursday's restart, virtual fans "beat cardboard cutouts, and the way the cameras focused on the court, it’s not like the 'fans' were omnipresent." They "served a purpose." A couple of times during Jazz-Pelicans and Clippers-Lakers, the "camera angles gave the impression of watching an NBA2K video game." The "between-quarter interviews with coaches was strange since coach and reporter had to social distance from each other." But that is "something the networks will revamp." The digital advertising boards around the court and other TV graphics "gave viewers a familiarity that aided the viewing experience" (USA TODAY, 7/31).

SOME AWKWARD MOMENTS: In Utah, Sarah Todd writes there was "music being pumped in while players warmed up, that seemed normal, but once the game started, things got a little more strange." The video boards "showed fans faces," but the "sound being pumped into the building of cheers and jeers was so artificial that it felt like an unnecessary joke." Todd: "When the first player went to the free-throw line and the already quiet arena quieted a little more, I was shocked that from the other side of the court I heard the ball bounce against the hardwood louder than I thought possible" (DESERET NEWS, 7/31). In L.A., Tania Ganguli noted during Clippers-Lakers, a "recorded crowd chanted 'de-fense' as the game’s final seconds ticked off." The digital crowd "roared as Randy Newman sang 'I Love LA'" after the Lakers' win (L.A. TIMES, 7/31). 

DISNEY MAGIC: In N.Y., Andrew Marchand writes the NBA and its TV partners have "attempted to transform ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex into something of a state of the art, hopefully pandemic-proof TV studio." As ESPN approaches its first broadcast Friday night, it has "tried to create a big-time feel without fans present." To do this, the net has in "just a month-and-a-half erected 30-plus infrastructures inside and outside the three arenas that house the courts." ESPN "would not reveal how much it spent on the facility, but it had reported the NBA’s outlay" was $150M for the entire bubble. The aesthetics "include virtual fans and a home-court feel for each team." The national broadcasts "will feature 20-plus cameras as opposed to 12 for a non-bubble, pre-pandemic games." Throughout the three courts, ESPN "will utilize more than 60 robotic cameras." There are "around 200 ESPN staffers working on the event, nearly 20 of them are on-the-air" (N.Y. POST, 7/31).