NBL basketball had been nut-punched by its broadcasting deal with Channel 10 for what felt like forever, so when NBL.tv came along all Aussie hoops fans rejoiced. The opportunity to watch nearly every game live and uninterrupted at an affordable price is something that should not be taken for granted and for the most part, has NBL fans feeling extremely appreciative…
…Hoop Diary included.
There are some teething issues with the coverage, which is to be expected with such a new product but there are also some really simple (cost free) adjustments that can be made to improve the overall experience for viewers.
When delivering this ‘first of its kind’ product to the Australian sports public, it is absolutely imperative that it is easy on the eye. It does not need to be quite at the same level of the NBA’s equivalent right away but it does need to be clean. A simple, clean product that works well is always preferred over a shiny, gleaming, under-performing train-wreck.
The NBL.tv product as it stands right now leans way closer to column A than column B, so let’s start by listing some of the positives.
The starting line-ups listed before the game are extremely clean and easy to read. They do not feature the ludicrous spinning shoes that Channel 10 seem to be okay with and they present all the required info in an easy to read format.
The streaming quality for the most part is excellent. Varying reports have surfaced on social media platforms regarding this subject but my guess is that individuals’ Internet bandwidth and line contention play a large part in streaming quality for most households and mobile devices. Having had professional experience in this field, I can confidently tell you that this is unavoidable.
The commentary teams overall are really good. Most of the commentary I’ve heard this season has featured plenty of stats, notes and trivia that keeps the audience interested. There are a small number of commentators that really don’t know what they’re saying/doing but let’s face it, the same could be said for AFL coverage at times.
Finally, the integration of social media with this product has been excellent in my opinion. Very rarely have we seen any mind-numbing tweets from the NBL.tv account, which always delivers reminders and prompts users to log on and enjoy the games.
Now for the immediate fixes, which for the record won’t cost the earth (in most cases nothing at all) and will provide an instant and significant improvement to the overall customer experience.
Firstly, I would not go live with audio or video (mainly audio) until the game is being officially introduced by the host. Often the commentators can be heard sound testing and speaking with production crews which isn’t in any way offensive but it certainly looks amateur. Keeping the “live telecast to begin shortly” graphic displayed longer would be a good start.
Secondly, if the video player could somehow save a user’s display settings this would make life a lot easier. Even when switching between games, the default bandwidth setting is so low that the court and players are practically unrecognisable. Once the user has set their chosen speed, it would be great if that info was somehow saved to their profile.
Finally, and this is a big concern to many of the NBL’s paying customers but the choice of camera angles and timing of replays during games needs a major overhaul.
Frantically changing camera angles during such a fast-paced sport is going to result in only one thing, missed action. Basketball’s main selling point is the fast and athletic end-to-end action and if these plays are being missed because a producer has an itchy trigger finger, then someone needs to take charge and put a stop to it.
The use of the baseline camera angle should only be used on free throws, replays, dead ball situations and occasionally when a player has just scored and is running back on defense. It is a required angle as it breaks the monotony of staring at a singular feed and gives people an alternate view of the action. Utilising this camera angle when a team is swinging the ball around the perimeter on offense however is doing nothing for the viewer other than giving him/her a headache… or an epileptic seizure. Timing is also important with the changing of camera angles. Switching between camera angles a dozen times in 40 seconds is way, way too much.
As for the timing of replays, some telecasts are better than others but during a number of games, there seems to be a distinct detachment between producer and the game itself.
Example: The whistle blows and the camera zooms in on two referees discussing a call. The camera stays focused on these referees for approximately 30 seconds (of prime replay time) while they deliberate. Once they have decided on the call, the ball is in-bounded and the replay of the call in question begins. By the time the (sometimes extended) replay is finished, a live basket has just been scored and missed by the viewer.
Broadcasting a basketball game is relatively simple and it is important that the viewer can see as much of the court as possible while the ball is in play. If the crowd and commentators can be heard reacting to live on-court action while the viewer is stuck watching a replay, it is extremely frustrating and practically unforgivable.
Use the AFL once again as an example, this type of mistake wouldn’t happen very often and if it did, it would be a big deal. At the end of the day, a replay should NEVER cut off live action, period.
If the NBL want more and more people to sign up to online services such as NBL.tv in future then it needs to put its proverbial foot down. The league needs to iron out some non-negotiable standards that are to be followed and with these small but significant changes, we’ll have the best online package an Aussie sports fan could ask for.
Without them, it’s just another “she’ll be right mate” attempt at an initiative that could have been so much more.
Make the changes.