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NBA wants fans to engage more through 'InPlay'

The basketball league and FanDuel launch a real-time interactive mobile game, so fans watching NBA games on TV can compete against each other.

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NBA

This is for basketball fans who watch games on TV with the remote in one hand and check their fantasy team's stats on their mobile devices with the other.

The NBA and fantasy sports site FanDuel said Thursday they are launching NBA InPlay, a real-time interactive fantasy game that lets fans watching nationally televised NBA games play against each other. The free app is available Thursday at the iOS App Store and Google Play.

Fans can play InPlay either in a public contest, joining legions of hoops fans, or create a private contest with friends. Here's how: During an NBA telecast, fans pick a team playing and then pick one player to track for each of the game's four quarters. Points are accumulated based on how many points, rebounds and assists a player gets.

For example, fans choosing the Golden State Warriors, which currently has the NBA's best record (and which has a highly anticipated Christmas Day matchup against the NBA champ Cleveland Cavaliers), can play All-Stars Kevin Durant in the first quarter, Klay Thompson in the second, Draymond Green in the third and Stephen Curry in the fourth. As a bonus, fans can strategically activate four "turbo boosts" that last 48 seconds and can significantly increase a player's point total -- think of Durant racing down-court on a fast break for a dunk.

The interactive game has been in the works for about six months and is the latest feature for NBA Digital. The league earlier this season introduced Mobile View, which puts fans closer to the action with zoomed-in shots on its League Pass subscription service. That streaming option came shortly after the NBA said it will broadcast one game each week in virtual reality.

"We are always looking at ways to enhance the viewing experience, drive people to tune in to our broadcasts and increase the time spent watching live games," said Melissa Rosenthal Brenner, the NBA's senior vice president for digital media. "NBA InPlay has the potential to meet these objectives while offering our fans an engaging, new way to experience the game."

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Fans can get in on the InPlay action starting with Thursday night's doubleheader on TNT as the Los Angeles Lakers take on the Miami Heat, followed by the San Antonio Spurs squaring off against the LA Clippers. On Christmas Day there will be five games, including that Warriors-Cavs showdown.

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Brave fans willing to pick the Philadelphia 76ers while playing the NBA's InPlay mobile fantasy game would be wise to select rookie sensation Joel Embiid.

NBA

Worried about syncing issues if you're trying to play while watching live games on TV? The NBA said that when fans log in to InPlay, they will be asked to activate the microphone on their mobile devices, allowing to the game to read an audio watermark in the broadcast. That matches the data feed for the game. The game has a max delay time of about 20 seconds.

Top scores from InPlay users during select quarters and games could win prizes such as gift cards from the NBA Store. Fans also can compete to win grand prizes, including a $35,000 credit from sponsor Autotrader toward a vehicle and tickets to the 2017 NBA Finals.

Tom Griffiths, FanDuel's co-founder and chief product officer, said NBA InPlay is the first product of its kind.

"Our mission is to offer sports fans exciting new ways to engage with the players and teams they love, through innovative sports entertainment products," he said.