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NBA's new companion app provides fantasy league-like experience

The NBA is launching a new companion application that keeps sports fans engaged on a second screen during the game.

The app functions almost like a mini fantasy league. The app syncs with whatever game the viewer is watching and offers real time updates and the chance to earn points.

?I haven?t watched a Seahawks game in two years without Twitter where I?ve cultivated a feed of the voices that I believe matter,? said Jeff Hasen, founder of Gotta Mobilize and author of The Art of Mobile Persuasion

?This is what the NBA is after with another personalization effort. Choose your favorite - or more likely the player in your fantasy league - and create exactly the experience that works for you.? 

NBA InPlay
In recent years, fantasy leagues have become some of the most popular form of entertainment for sports fans outside of actually watching sports.

The hobby has become so popular that apps and Web sites such as FanDuel and DraftKings have popped up to enormous success, allowing consumers to manage every aspect of their fantasy league in one digital place.

The NBA is taking advantage of this popularity by coming up with its own fantasy-style game, but shrunk down to fit into one app, one game at a time.

The new app is called NBA InPlay and is meant to be used as a second screen during an NBA game.

The app works by analyzing the audio of the game being watched to pinpoint exactly which game the viewer is watching.

The app then keeps track of every player?s performance, offering real-time updates as the game rolls on.

The viewer then picks a player for each quarter of the game. Just as in fantasy basketball, for every positive action undertaken by this player, the app user earns points.

App users can then compete against their friends, similar to a social network, and see each other?s points and whom they picked as their players.

In this way, the NBA is approximating the point-accruing aspect of a fantasy league but for individual games.

Miniature fantasy league
With this new app, the NBA is providing an alternative to fantasy leagues for consumers who want a competitive, supplemental experience to watching their favorite games without the commitment and larger amount of work and effort that goes into finding, joining and maintaining a full-on fantasy league.

Instead of requiring customers to seek out an existing league or create their own, customers can now drop in and out, piecemeal style, into a singular game to compete and earn points, but leave whenever they want.

The new app also represents a larger move on the NBA?s part to bring more supplemental experiences to its mobile offerings. 

Recently, the NBA unveiled a virtual reality promotional video experience that was meant to promote the regular season that begins soon (see story).

?Why is this smart? It?s unwise to ignore the great majority of sports fans who have a mobile phone in one hand,? Mr. Hasen said. ?I haven?t seen a stat, but I?d venture to say there are more mobile phones in hand than beers. 

?And if that isn?t a sign of changing times, nothing is.?