NBA Turns to Video Conferencing

Amid a recession that has many families cutting back on their spending, sports teams are trying to find new ways to lure fans to their stadiums and off their couches. One part of the strategy will be on display this weekend at the NBA All-Star game in Phoenix.

Fans in the city will get a behind-the-scenes look at the festivities and be able to interact with some of the league’s stars–thanks to a high-definition video-conferencing system. The system, called TelePresence and made by Cisco Systems (CSCO), uses giant screens to create an experience as close to a face-to-face meeting as possible. (Cisco is one of the NBA’s “official partners,” so it gets to use league events to promote its products.)

“When people come to a major event like All Star they want to feel like they have something special and not just sit in a seat,” says Steve Hellmuth, executive vice president of operations and technology for NBA Entertainment. “This technology lets fans have a special in-person experience with a player.”

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