The Golden State Warriors are launching Dub Hub, a virtual experience that will livestream fans onto video screens at Chase Center while they can’t attend in person due to COVID-19. The activation will host 120 fans per game, starting with the Warriors’ home-opener against the Portland Trail Blazers on Jan. 1.
The web-based platform was built in partnership with The Famous Group, which also powers the WWE ThunderDome, another virtual fan experience born during the pandemic. Golden State has placed a 105-foot horizontal LED video screen behind player benches to display the remote audience, whose courtside video feeds will be shown on TV broadcasts.
Dub Hub also drew inspiration from the virtual fan experience at the NBA bubble in Orlando, which utilized Microsoft Teams. The virtual seats at Chase Center are expected to remain beyond this season, even once fans are allowed to return inside the arena. Only six NBA teams are admitting fans to open the 2020-21 season.
“We plan on executing this for the remainder of the season and into next season,” says Shawn Bennett, the Warriors’ executive producer of event presentation. “If we could find a location for the video boards or maybe utilize existing screens within our arena, I could definitely see this being a program that has legs to continue and even potentially to monetize.”
A VIP aspect of Dub Hub will stream video of select users onto four LED boards hung inside the player tunnel at Chase Center. A microphone and speaker placed inside the tunnel will let players directly talk to fans before taking the court.
“Usually there’s a couple minutes of idle time as the players are huddled up waiting to come out together. We’ll be asking the [virtual] fans to cheer the team on as they come on the court, and hopefully the players engage with them as well. We could have a player’s family members on the board. Let’s say Steph Curry’s in the tunnel and Ayesha and the kids are on the board being able to connect right before he hits the court.”
Dub Hub will also let users watch games on their computers or tablets by navigating four different camera angles at Chase Center, including the actual TV broadcast and audio feed. Fans will be able to click to activate virtual signs and cheering prompts that will populate within their display square.
The video boards surrounding the court at Chase Center to fuel Dub Hub will only require minimal adjustments once fans return to the arena to make sure their views are not blocked by the screens, according to Bennett.
“When we do have fans come back this season, the boards will be tucked below on that retaining wall behind the player bench so that the first row of seats is not obstructed and that we’ll be able to welcome fans back,” he said.