At the start of the season, many NBA fans were upset Stephanie Ready was removed as the Charlotte Hornets’ TV color analyst and reassigned as their sideline reporter. With the Hornets nowhere near the NBA Conference Finals, Ready still finds herself heavily involved in playoff coverage.
No stranger to being a pioneer within the industry, Ready is currently broadcasting the Western Conference Finals with Spero Dedes during the NBA’s innovative virtual reality coverage for Turner Sports. Turner Sports is partnered with the NBA and Intel to provide fans with the unique VR experience.
“The beauty of virtual reality is I can say ‘Look to your left. Steve Kerr is livid because his players missed a defensive assignment,’ and the fans at home can turn to the left and look at Kerr in real time,” Ready told USA Today.
“If it were a regular television broadcast, I’d have to press my talkback button on my headset, get my director on the line and say ‘Get me a shot of Steve Kerr on the bench,’ and by the time that is on the screen for viewers at home, hopefully he’s still doing what he was doing when I noticed it, but probably not,” Ready continued.
Preparing for games is similar to a regular broadcast, but the actual call is different. Ready and Dedes have even called VR games from their 53-foot production truck while watching six monitors. One of the biggest adjustments is remembering many of the users viewing the broadcast in VR are doing so for the first time.
“We’ve tried to be less stats heavy and have a running conversation with Stephanie about the game,” Dedes said. “Because this is still not mainstream and fans are experiencing it for the first time, we find ourselves being more of a traffic cop and introducing them to what the technology is like, what the capabilities are like.”
To experience the NBA in virtual reality, fans need to download the NBA on TNT VR app and purchase a compatible headset. The NBA’s VR partnership is in conjunction with Intel and Turner Sports which means the Western Conference Finals is the last chance for fans to experience the game in virtual reality this year.