BOSTON (CBS) — Fans obviously won’t be able to attend games inside the NBA bubble in Orlando. But the league is giving them a chance to be part of the fun virtually.

And we’re not talking about those creepy CGI fans that Fox is going to try with their MLB games. The NBA plans to feature more than 300 virtual fans on 17-foot video boards surrounding the court when the season restarts next week at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex. Those fans will be able to interact with each other digitally during the game through Microsoft’s “Together Mode.”

“This new experience — the first to go live as a result of the NBA’s strategic alliance with Microsoft — gives participating fans the feeling of sitting next to one another at a live game without leaving the comfort and safety of their homes, while players experience their energy and support in-venue,” the NBA said in its announcement.

The NBA will host “virtual fans” at games played inside the Orlando bubble. (Photo from the NBA)

Everyone watching from home will also have the ability cheer on their favorite team — or boo their nemesis — with a virtual cheering experience through the NBA App, and on Twitter using team hashtags throughout the game.

Having no fans in the stands also means the NBA can get creative with their camera placement in Orlando. The league announced that more than 30 cameras, including many in robotic form, will be repositioned closer to the court in order to showcase never-before-seen camera angles in places that are otherwise not accessible with fans in the arena.

Fans may not be able to watch the games in person, but it sounds like the NBA is doing a lot to make sure fans feel closer than ever to the action.


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