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Coinbase VR Brand Strategy

NBA and Meta announce extended partnership deal

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By Webb Wright, NY Reporter

January 23, 2023 | 5 min read

The agreement includes the launch of a new virtual experience in Horizon Worlds, as well as the upcoming release of NBA-licensed virtual clothing in the Meta Avatars Store.

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Inside the NBA Arena, fans will be able to watch real-life NBA games in a virtual environment / National Basketball Association

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is ready to continue balling in Horizon Worlds, Meta’s virtual reality (VR) platform.

This morning, the two brands jointly announced an extension of their multiyear partnership agreement. The extended partnership deal will include the launch of the NBA Arena, a new virtual experience in Horizon Worlds accessible via the Meta Quest – the official VR headset of both the NBA and the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA).

The driving idea behind the new campaign is to maximally immerse basketball fans into the experience of watching real-life games; think of it like watching professional basketball on TV, with the added, VR-facilitated illusion of standing courtside. Fans will appear as legless virtual avatars inside the NBA Arena and will be free to mingle with one another. Private watch parties with friends can also be organized.

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“Our extended partnership with Meta will provide more immersive and innovative ways to experience the NBA,” Jennifer Chun, executive vice president and head of content partnerships at the NBA, said in a statement. “Meta’s digital world opens up exciting possibilities for NBA fans to virtually attend our games and to interact with other fans around the world.”

The new virtual experience kicks off later today at 7 pm ET with a game between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Detroit Pistons. A total of 52 regular season NBA games will be hosted live inside the NBA Arena.

The NBA goes virtual

Today’s announcement follows the May 2022 release of a virtual experience called NBA Lane, which was also hosted in Horizon Worlds. (NBA Lane was also the title of a short film released by the NBA the previous November in celebration of the organization’s 75th anniversary season).

The NBA Arena will be available to subscribers of the NBA League Pass, a product offered by the organization which enables fans to watch games live and on-demand. It can be accessed using the Meta Quest 2 or the Meta Quest Pro headsets.

The extended partnership deal between the NBA and Meta also includes the upcoming release of NBA-licensed virtual apparel on the Meta Avatars Store, the company’s virtual marketplace for attire that can be worn by users’ avatars. All purchases can be able to be used not only in Horizon Worlds, but across the entire suite of Meta platforms (which also includes Facebook, Facebook Messenger and Instagram). The NBA and Meta said in a joint press release that the new NBA-licensed virtual apparel will be available “soon,” though no exact date was given.

The press release hinted that “Meta will also have a presence at major NBA and WNBA events to showcase Meta Quest technology to NBA fans.”

Today’s announcement is the latest step from the NBA to establish itself as a pioneer in trendy, emerging technologies. In 2020, the organization teamed up with Canadian company Dapper Labs to launch NBA Top Shot, a hugely popular decentralized app (dapp) that allows users to buy, sell and trade NBA-themed non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

The following year, both the NBA and the WNBA penned a sponsorship deal with Coinbase, a leading crypto exchange. And in 2022, the NBA partnered with web3 brand Sorare to launch an NFT-based fantasy basketball game.

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