Microsoft has become the official technology partner of the NBA.
Beginning with the 2020-21 season, the NBA will use artificial intelligence to deliver live-game broadcasts and other content using Microsoft Azure, the tech company’s cloud computing infrastructure. The new platform will run like an enhanced version of the NBA app and will include NBA League Pass, the subscription service used to access out-of-market games. The partnership will give fans a “next-generation” experience which includes real-time stat overlays, alternate audio and video feeds, and advanced gaming elements. It will also integrate e-commerce through tickets and merchandise offers. Fans that use the new platform can earn “loyalty points” for watching games that work as they would in a video game, meaning viewers can earn tiered rewards and status badges, and unlock personal achievements. The NBA plans to let users redeem their points for discounts on merchandise, tickets, NBA League pass access, or exclusive content.
Using artificial intelligence, the platform will be semi-personalized to use. Seeing as consumers would rather have customized experiences that are not based on explicit data, according to a Gartner report, it could be a smart move for Microsoft to “learn” what a user likes through session behavior and then tailor the NBA content accordingly. Personalization will include a user’s favorite players, games, and teams based on search behavior. As the remainder of the 2019-20 NBA season was canceled, the platform will not officially rollout until next season, but in the meantime, fans can get free previews of NBA League Pass to watch archived games and content.
Microsoft is helping the NBA reinvent the fan viewing experience. Creating a platform where viewers fully immerse themselves in professional basketball could help the NBA increase fan engagement and welcome in a new era of sports viewership.