Small Planet

FanDuel's NBA InPlay

A real-time mobile fantasy game that you can play live during NBA action

Users watch games they otherwise wouldn't and watch for a longer period of time. On average, NBA InPlay players watch 26 more minutes per game.

FanDuel’s NBA InPlay is an at-home game that fans can play while watching NBA games. Users play real-time fantasy basketball (picking players, earning points, and competing to win prizes) against friends, co-workers, or other fans across the country.

FanDuel wanted to enhance engagement for home viewers with a colorful, compelling experience that directly connects NBA fans to what’s happening on their screens.

NBA InPlay players sync their device to the audio of a particular NBA game in order to play along with it live

NBA InPlay users sync their device to the audio of a NBA game and play along with it live. You join a public or private game, choose one of the teams in the match-up, then draft a player each quarter from that team. Scores reflect what the active player is doing on the court — including baskets, rebounds, steals, blocks, assists and turnovers.

The “Turbo” feature is where the fun begins. Users choose an opportune time to activate a 48-second Turbo, then earn points for all players from their selected team on the court, plus a multiplier for the active player. This heightened strategic element keeps users engaged through the entire game (even if the score is lopsided).

The audio sync technology used for NBA InPlay is brand new, and the time-stamped watermarks contained in the broadcast signal needed to be tested in several (loud) environments.

So, there was a ton of play testing to improve the latency...and not just your ordinary, garden-variety testing either. It had to be live, mainly at night (since that’s when most games are played), and we had to follow the games in real time versus “our” time. No DVR pausing, replays, phone calls, or extended absences that push past a standard commercial break.

Over 100 hours of live play testing, mainly at night, were necessary to improve the latency (all TV signals, whether cable, satellite, or terrestrial have different amounts of delay from the live event). We had to watch the games in real time: so no DVR pausing, replays, phone calls, or extended absences that push past a standard commercial break.

NBA InPlay’s hard release date, December 25th, was one of the biggest basketball viewership days of the year. Design, development, quality assurance, final approvals and submission all happened in under 16 weeks.

Built in Unity and set in a dynamic environment, the result was a rich, seamless gaming experience that has met with tremendous response. The app’s spectacular design incorporates player photographs, team colors, and content.

Additional features include a leaderboard and prizing for public games. Eventually NBA InPlay will feature longer-term contests, so we've added Facebook integration in order to maintain user stats long-term.

App Name

NBA InPlay






Unity | Multiplayer Backend
Websockets | Watermarking | Nielsen
Firebase | Amplify Analytics

More from Small Planet