NBA’s digital fans look completely ridiculous

Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images
Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images /

Even empty stands would be better than this.

The MLB’s giant images of fan’s faces are a little creepy, but the NBA is taking things to a whole new level with their digital fans sitting courtside. From the strange look to the glitchy waving, these bizarre seat-fillers are going to be nothing more than a huge distraction.

The league is using Microsoft Teams to stream fans on courtside screens and will apparently use the sounds from the virtual crowd rather than pumping in artificial crowd noise as the MLB and several soccer leagues have done. In a stadium with thousands of fans, no one can make out the specific things that people are cheering, but with just a few hundred virtually tuned in, will we be able to hear every sound from fans watching at home? It seems like socially distant cheering could get pretty annoying for participants’ friends and family.

The NBA’s digital fans look really bizarre

If you’ve been on a virtual meeting during quarantine, you know how chaotic they can be. It’s going to be absolutely ridiculous to watch fans’ cameras cutting in and out, random glitches and, of course, photobombs by pets and family members. We get what you’re trying to do here NBA, but did you really think this through?

The WNBA isn’t including any fan images in their games, and it hasn’t impacted the viewing experience at all. While this could be a fun opportunity for fans to be a bigger part of the games in the bubble, it’s going to look absurd for television viewers. Even in the short clips we’ve seen from today’s scrimmages, it’s impossible to focus on the players with the digital fans waving around in the background.

The virtual fan ‘tickets’ do come with some extra perks, including the ability to react with on-screen animations during games. The league also plans to change camera and microphone positioning to better capture the sights and sounds of an in-person experience for fans stuck at home. The NBA opens its season in the bubble next week, so we’ll get to see how this unusual plan plays out soon.

More. Every MLB team will be using fake crowd noise in 2020. light