Golden State Warriors Unite Bay Area Fans, Discuss the Franchise’s Future During Dubs Draft Room
Second-screen experience derived from the Chase Center control room
With the 2020-21 NBA season set to tip off in two weeks, the Golden State Warriors are currently in the midst of their abbreviated training camp, but, last month, the franchise’s in-venue production team was put through its paces during the Virtual NBA Draft. Like Atlanta Hawks fans, Warriors fans were treated to Dubs Draft Room Presented by Chase, an interactive second-screen experience that offered a mixture of talent live from San Francisco’s Chase Center and offsite locations.
Onsite Operations: Talent and Crew Work Together in Chase Center
Since the Warriors’ last home game, vs. the Los Angeles Clippers on March 10, Chase Center has been quiet after the nationwide sports shutdown. COVID-19 restrictions imposed by state legislature forced the postponement or cancellation of large gatherings, such as the concerts scheduled the new venue’s first summer. With the help of remote and cloud-based technology and a limited onsite presence, the organization was able to provide a virtual meeting place for its passionate fanbase.
Down near the court, radio play-by-play announcer Tim Roye and former Warriors guard/forward Kelenna Azubuike donned protective masks and were positioned at a large desk behind a plexiglass divider. The onsite setup was capped off by the arena’s 82-ft.-9-in.-wide by 52-ft.-8-in.-tall LED display, which is the largest centerhung videoboard in the league.
“We were able to use the videoboard as a backdrop,” says Jen Millet, SVP, marketing, Golden State Warriors. “It was nice to have fans see a connection back to the arena after such a long break.”
In the new IP control room high above the floor, Executive Producer, Event Presentation, Shawn Bennett and Director, Scoreboard Operations, Scott Heitman led their six-person staff with elements on the videoboard and the entire run of show. In addition, in-arena host Franco Finn offered chances at prizes and kept the program flowing with timely transitions.
“I’m proud of the team because they’ve done an amazing job of pivoting and keeping [the team] relevant during this time,” Millet says. “They’re also giving our fan base points of connection, which is really hard to do right now.”
Offsite Guests: RingCentral Supplies Connection to Remote Contributors
Created in 1971, the Warriors have a lengthy roster of storied alumni across the nation. Whether notable faces in the community, legendary players who once graced the floor, or the man who has led the team to the promised land three times in four seasons, the team’s roots run deep. To honor the past and tie generations of fans together, the live stream featured Hall of Famer Chris Mullins, former players Jason Richardson and Mitch Richmond, current head coach Steve Kerr, and NBA on TNT analyst Candace Parker.
“We were also able to talk to two of our current players, Jordan Poole and Eric Paschall, to take fans down memory lane to see what their experiences were like a year ago,” says Millet. “I thought the mix [of guests] was really good, and it was really Warriors-centric.”
All video interviews were handled by the franchise’s official cloud communications partner, RingCentral. The company was also pivotal in maintaining communications with third-party vendor The Famous Group.
“[The Famous Group team] was entirely offsite,” adds Millet. “Shawn was coordinating with them on production elements during the night.”
Know Your Dubs: The Famous Group Develops Graphics, Chat, Trivia
In a Bay Area-branded Draft party, it was only right that fans interact with one another during a night that heavily impacts the team’s future. The Famous Group, which played a role in the virtual NFL Draft in May as well as in WWE Thunderdome and US Open tennis, presented a comprehensive layout of interactive functions and clean graphics for participants.
The team was looking for a graphics package that matched its colors and the graphics that fans are used to seeing at Chase Center. The creative team also needed to create content surrounding potential draftees that the organization was targeting.
“Beforehand, we did our due diligence by starting with who we thought some of our draft picks might be,” says Millet. “We did a full briefing on all of these individuals, so we had graphics built and ready to go.”
One of the best parts of watching an NBA Draft with close friends is the differing opinions and commentary after each pick. These hypotheticals and conversation topics were translated into onscreen polls and chat function supplied by The Famous Group. To test fans’ knowledge, the outside vendor also generated trivia questions based on data and statistics generated from within the organization.
During the Q&A portion of the event, the franchise’s social team curated a list of questions and passed them along to be addressed on-air.
“If the questions were either broader topics or similar in theme, our social team would jump on them,” says Millet. “Shawn would then instantaneously pass them over to our two hosts.”
Back in the Bay: Dubs Draft Room Sets the Tone for Upcoming NBA Calendar
Unfortunately, the Warriors’ 2019-20 season concluded without a cross-country trip to the NBA bubble in Orlando, making this production one of the first marquee NBA events to take place in the year-old Chase Center. Since fans will be at home for the start of the upcoming home schedule, some elements will be used to continue the connection between Dub Nation and the team.
“When we return to games in a few weeks, we will not be hosting fans in the building, so you’re going to see some of these concepts come into play within a game and broadcast experience,” says Millet. “It’s a hard time for everyone in our industry, but anything that we can do to lighten people’s moods and connect them to things that traditionally have brought them joy is something that we’re working towards.”
The Warriors start the 2020-21 regular season with a four-game road trip to Brooklyn, Milwaukee, Chicago, and Detroit before starting its 36-game home slate vs. the Portland Trail Blazers on New Year’s Day at 10:30 p.m. ET.