NBA Digital in partnership with FanDuel announced the launch of NBA InPlay, a second-screen fantasy mobile app that will allow participants to make decisions on their lineup in real time during nationally televised games.
The game, which is available for free at the App Store and Google Play, became available Thursday morning ahead of TNT's doubleheader featuring the Los Angeles Lakers vs. Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs vs. Los Angeles Clippers. NBA InPlay will be available going forward for every game on TNT, NBA TV, ESPN and ABC.
“We are always looking at ways to enhance the viewing experience, drive people to tune in to our broadcasts and increase the time spent watching live games,” said Melissa Rosenthal Brenner, the NBA's senior vice president of digital media. “NBA InPlay has the potential to meet these objectives while offering our fans an engaging, new way to experience the game.”
Much like standard daily fantasy offerings, players will have the option to join public contests or create private groups with their friends. Where NBA InPlay differs is in the real-time component.
Accessing the user's microphone, the app synchronizes itself with the live broadcast. Users begin the experience by selecting a team and then choose individual players from that team for each quarter. Utilizing the same scoring system as FanDuel, players are then scored on the points, rebounds, assists, etc. they accumulate.
The strategy is all in choosing the right moments in real time. Players can only be used once within the same game, so the difference between a win and a loss can be as important as finding the right moment to select a star. (Players can, however, be switched before quarters in case of injury.)
To further the second-screen experience, users will also be given the opportunity to use 48-second "turbo boosts" that increase a player's point total during that time frame. If timed correctly—think, when Stephen Curry is going full Super Saiyan from beyond the three-point arc—the boosts can single-handedly help you win a contest.
The turbo boost's purpose is to keep fans engaged in the game; it's much easier to know when to use the feature when you're active with the action on the floor. Boosts also offer a higher multiplier at the beginning, making timing all the more important. Unlike the set-it-and-forget-it daily or standard fantasy games, NBA InPlay relies on real-time engagement and decision-making for an immersive all-around experience.
"Our mission is to offer sports fans exciting new ways to engage with the players and teams they love, through innovative sports entertainment products," said Tom Griffiths, co-founder and chief product officer, FanDuel. "NBA InPlay is the first product of its kind, and we are proud to partner with the NBA to give fans a revolutionary new way to enjoy the live-viewing experience."
NBA InPlay will then award prizes to winners in individual quarters and games. Potential prizes include a trip to the 2017 NBA Finals in June, a $35,000 AutoTrader credit and a number of other NBA-related items. At an undisclosed point later in the season, NBA InPlay will launch cumulative contests with grand prizes going to their most active and highest-scoring users.
The NBA is the first of the United States' four major professional sports leagues to offer a second-screen fantasy experience of its kind. While most fans spend their nights poring over every basket for daily and season-long fantasy results, NBA InPlay provides fans in-game agency for the first time.
All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) on Twitter.