Steve Hellmuth on Innovating the New NBA Experience

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Creating and continually innovating the entertainment experience to keep your customers on the edge of their seats is a monumental undertaking. Can the entertainment experience go to new levels? What cool innovations and technologies is the sports industry doing to make your time watching an event/ game more enjoyable?

NBA Experience

Today’s guest is always on the forefront of what it takes to keep customers engaged in the experience.  Steve Hellmuth has been innovating the customer experience for over 30 years from the Olympics to Major League Baseball and today the National Basketball Association with some of the most experiential ideas, innovations and technologies. This week on Killer Innovations, Steve Hellmuth joins us to discuss what he and his team are doing to make your experience with the NBA beyond expectations.

Permission to Innovate

The NBA has a great reputation for willingness with ample runway to experiment and fail in order to get that next innovative experience. NBA Leadership, players, players association, fans, and owners are the most progressive at experimentation and interactive experiences. Steve and his team continually are working special fan experience projects to give you the thrill of the game. It’s important to have permissions with every relation and level in innovation efforts and the platform to test your ideas and validate them.

At this year’s NBA Summer League Steve had his mobile unit parked in the middle of all the broadcasters to roll out some of their experiments from their innovation sandbox. This is the perfect time to interact with players, fans and management with room to experiment with innovations/ideas, fail, adjust and try again. Some of the fun experiences you will see this season have been tested at the Summer League and percolating in their innovation sandbox. A number of these ideas they have worked on for many years and just now are being deployed—sometimes innovation takes a long time to curate and requires patience.

Where is the Fan Experience Going

Innovating in this league is all about entertainment and the story. Steve teamed with Phil in the past spending a good deal of time in 3D initiatives and experimenting on the convergence looking for the focus that would give the best experience with successes and failures. So what will be the experience of the living room of the future be? Today Virtually Reality and Augmented Reality have been problematic, but it will play a part in the NBA experience as it moves towards better eye-tracking and the next generation.

Steve also wants to move faster towards no walls and pick your experience in your media room to feel like you are in the venue. Part of that will be to expand on the synchronous experiences with all information flow and devices to track what really catches your attention and is exciting at that moment. He envisions more immersive experiences and premium services that give the fans an opportunity to pick and choose experiences with or without advertising. Steve and the team will continue to work closely with stadiums to get the most innovative blueprint and technology deployment to ensure the 6th man effect is in play in all games.

What’s in the Innovation Sandbox for Rollout this Season

Steve’s vision is to get everyone involved in the NBA experience and to do that their innovation sandbox has to continually be testing the limits, being the first to leverage technology advances (such as WIFI-6, 5G, others) and coming up with innovative ways to put you closer to the floor and part of the game. Some of the focus this year and near future that you will experience includes:

  • Skycam’s/Spydercam’s on the Move – this active camera positioning gives the closest encounter by catching the move by move experience and passion of the game and players following them over the court during play
  • Smartphone & Telecast Integration – produced telecast of the whole game with all audio and video in 5G from the smartphone. This is going to open up doors for fans to participate in broadcasting and will lead to more real-time and diminishing costs to produce courtside interviews, tapping into fan action shots and immediate fan broadcast experiences
  • Robotic Camera Positioning – remote action with the ability to get to better views, low angles and positioning normally hard to see and get to
  • Dueling Announcers – announcers competing and dueling throughout the game with a new ultra-audio track

Where’s the Next Level of Innovation & Impact for the NBA

There are a number of areas that Steve and the team continue to experiment with for the ultimate fan experience, but one area that his in the interests of the players, fans, and leadership is ensuring the players are at the top of their game and available to go at a 100%. Biometric video capture and motion capture of the players every move is a priority. This will allow for preventive actions and better load management.

With a number of dynamic player duo’s this should be a really fun season full of rich fan experience both live at the event or from your favorite sports cave.

About Our Guest

Steve Hellmuth is the Executive Vice President, Media Operations & Technology for NBA Entertainment.  Under Hellmuth’s direction, there have been numerous firsts in innovation to include, SportsVU Player Tracking, the optical player tracking system in every venue, making the NBA the first major US professional sports league to quantify and analyze the player movement in live game action throughout an entire season.

Steve spent time in his management career with MLB and NBC and has produced the Emmy-nominated telecasts for the 1986 World Series and coordinated the production of Olympic profiles for the 1980 Moscow games. He also produced Larry Bird Night for the Boston Celtics and the All-Century Team Celebration on the field at the 1999 MLB All-Star game. Best place to see some of Steve and his team’s innovation experiments, prototyping and rollouts from the sandbox can be best observed and experiences on NBA League Pass and NBA TV.

Let’s connect; I am on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter.  If we do connect, drop me a note and let me know.  The email address is feedback@philmckinney.com or you can go to PhilMcKinney.com and drop me a note there.  If you are looking for innovation support go to TheInnovators.Network or want to be challenged to develop the next big idea, check out our Disruptive Ideation Workshops.  Don’t forget to join our Innovators Community to enjoy more conversations around innovation.

 

To learn about innovating the customer experience, listen to this week's show: Steve Hellmuth on Innovating the New NBA Experience.

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