NEVER mind that the Brooklyn Nets are circling the Milwaukee Bucks down on the floor of the new Barclays Center.

Peter and Maria Hoey


In a suite overlooking the home-side backboard, Chip Foley is watching the basketball game via live video feeds on his iPhone and iPad.

Mr. Foley is the director of building technology at the Forest City Ratner Companies, the real estate firm that developed the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn and is a minority owner of the Nets. Last month, the center introduced the latest thing in virtual spectatorship: an app that streams three different high-definition video feeds for stadium visitors who want to use their smartphones and tablets to follow the game they have come to see in person.

The goal, arena executives say, is to reproduce the multiscreen experience that many fans have already adopted in the man caves of their dens or living rooms. Fans like Mr. Foley, for instance, whose home setup for events like the Super Bowl includes a 60-inch, flat-screen TV augmented by two laptops (one to follow the coaches, another for the overhead view), not to mention the iPad on which he monitors game-related Twitter posts. To compete with couch multitasking, Barclays Center has installed a high-density Wi-Fi network and multicast video technology from Cisco Systems, called StadiumVision Mobile, intended to power similarly speedy video streaming, tweeting and photo-sharing for fans at Nets games.

From instant replay technology to microphones that transmit players’ and coaches’ live comments, broadcasters have spent decades developing techniques to make fans at home feel as if they are part of the game. Now, some arenas like Barclays are adding a complementary strategy: “You are trying to replicate that experience you would have on your couch,” Mr. Foley says. Fans at Nets games, for example, can activate instant replays on the mobile feeds they are watching, a pause-and-rewind technique that mimics a remote control.

Live spectator sports involve a kind of communion — otherwise, why bother leaving the house? — that personal devices have the potential to dilute. Still, the professional sports industry may just be playing catch-up with screen-centric consumers.

After all, many fans already prefer watching magnified views on a Jumbotron to the miniature-seeming live play somewhere down below them. Likewise, some football fans now tailgate next to college bowls, bringing their own satellite dishes and TVs so they can watch the game from the parking lot instead of the stadium, says John Nauright, a professor of sports studies at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.

And it’s not just sports. Many colleges now promote online courses over in-person lectures.

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source: The New York Times / NATASHA SINGER