NBA basketball returns in full tonight. It won't be business as usual, as we're all aware. The games will take place with no fans, essentially in empty gyms. The first look of such an experience, stemming from scrimmages that have taken place over the last week and a half, wasn't too bad.
It will get weirder, though, when the games start to matter, as they will beginning tonight. The NBA knows that and is trying to get creative with its broadcasts to offset the strangeness of the entire endeavor. The below video details precisely what will be new to our televisions screens, and there's a lot to like.
It will be interesting to see how the audio is balanced on broadcasts. There was a lot of trial-and-error during the scrimmages. Some games would amplify the squeaking of the sneakers to the point where it was noticeable, and others had all sound muffled. As much as we all wish it to be true, the NBA isn't going to let us get completely unfiltered audio coming from the court (because then the FCC would be on them faster than you can say basketball), so there will be a balance needed to be struck between the natural sounds of the game and audio pumped in, like music and fake cheers.
But that part (hopefully) won't matter past the restart, when ideally games are played in arenas with fans. The different broadcast angles, though, could have some staying power. The sideline "rail cam" will be tough to bring to a normal NBA broadcast, but the idea of the side angles could open up some fun possibilities for future basketball broadcasts. A different view at how offenses attack and how defenses counter is fascinating for basketball nerds such as myself.
I don't know about the Ref Cam, but I'm open to all innovations here. If there was ever a time to get funky, the restart in Orlando is it. It seems like the league will indeed be putting its creative juices to the test.