📷 from brisbane bullets

Review: Highs and Lows of the NBL App

The National Basketball League (NBL) currently offers fans the opportunity to follow their favourite team through a free, Single Team Pass. Through NBL TV, people can stream games live through the NBL app or on NBL.tv. However, this is only for your favourite team – mine obviously being the Brisbane Bullets. Additionally, those with the single team access can watch replays and highlights from other games, and NBL classics. An All-Access Pass, for all live NBL games, would require a $5/month subscription.

The Single Team Pass creates the opportunity for fans to engage with the game at no cost to them; a great initiative by the NBL to grow the sport in Australia.

Pick your team!

To use the app, you have to log in using your NBL account. Your options are the Single Team Pass or an All-Access Pass. If you’ve selected a Single Team, it would be pretty safe to assume that it would be for your favourite team. Alternatively, for All-Access Passes, most users would more likely watch their favourite team play. Therefore based on views, it would be pretty simple to determine a person’s favourite team.

It’s truly surprising that the NBL doesn’t do more with this information.

There are multiple things that they could improve on, and identifying a fan’s favourite team is just the beginning.

nbl-app-homepage  nbl-app-settings  nbl-app-notifications
Screenshots of the NBL app homepage, settings and notifications

Relevant notifications: 

I get notifications constantly when live games are about to start, even when it isn’t my own team. My account has already been linked to the free, single team access, meaning that I can only watch Brisbane Bullets games. So why the hell is the NBL app telling me to watch games I can’t actually watch? You can see that I also receive updates via the ESPN app for NBA games, for which I selected Golden State Warriors as my favourite team. Relevant, purposeful, and I can also control the frequency and type of updates I receive (e.g. quarter time scores, final scores, news). Much better.

Relevant homepage:

Like I said earlier, the Brisbane Bullets are my team, so at the very least the NBL app homepage should reflect that. It should be tailored to news that’s relevant to the Bullets such as player statistics, news articles, and highlights videos. Instead, I’m welcomed with a sign that says “JOIN NOW FOR FREE” although I’m already signed up. Mad.

More tweets:

The app shows tweets from the NBL. How exciting. If I wanted to read those I would just go to my Twitter app, where I already follow their account. I wouldn’t be heading for the NBL app for that fun tidbit. What would be interesting is if they compiled all players/coaches tweets, now that would draw me in. For example, last weekend Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors scored 60 points in 29 minutes. Yes, you read that right. What made it all the more fun was reading the tweets from current and ex-NBA players. See some of my favourites below.

Stats, stat!

A significant part of why I love basketball is the stats. I’m no maths or analysis junkie, but I just love knowing player and team stats. How many rebounds has Bairstow gone for? How many minutes has Gibson played? Are they close to reaching a triple-double (link out)?

The live play tracker, again, has some improvements that would significantly improve how a fan experiences an NBL game. Whether they’re attending in person, or trying to watch it on public transport.


The shot chart is my jam. I am 100% about it. The fact I can see where a player took his shots from, where he missed and where he scored is badass. What I don’t like is the fact that the table below it doesn’t at least show the total points scored. For example, I can see Beal was 5/6 for 2-pointers, and 2/6 from the 3-point line. Maths is not my strong suit. But even if you’re a maths genius, do you really want to sit there and calculate exactly how many points a player has so far in a game? That would take me freaking forever (16! I got it!).

Screenshots of the NBL app Overview tab for a game


Trying to follow a game using the play-by-play is traumatising. Far out. When Brisbane played New Zealand last Thursday, trying to see how we were doing on the bus ride home – awful. It’s messy, confusing and down right bad. I’ll be honest, the ESPN app does this well. It’s clean, I understand it, I can see everything to understand the play.

nbl-app-playbyplay  espn-app-playbyplay
Comparison between the NBL app (left) and ESPN app (right) play-by-play tracker 

Box Score:

I’m a year into my newly found love of basketball, so I’m basically a n00b in the lingo. I only just understood the three-second foul rule (I THINK???). But it might be safe to assume that not everyone using the app would have a good understanding about basketball terminology. It should at least show definitions when people click on OR or DR to show what the acronym stands for (in this case, Offensive Rebound and Defensive Rebound respectively). At this point I’m about 80% sure that ST and BL stand for Steals and Blocks but I could be wrong 😐

Screenshot of the NBL app Box Score tab

As you can see, there is definitely room for improvement with this app. There are a few positives as well, but not enough to keep me interested. Given that it’s the only app on the market, the NBL might believe that they’re doing alright considering. But there is a long way to go before they’ve created an app that supplements the good work of the players on the court (admittedly my team are on a losing streak, but you know what… whatever).

The possibilities are endless. The app collects data on fans favourite teams, the clicks within the app, which videos have the most hits, and what games draw significant crowds. All this data that they collect could improve fan experience by ten-fold, but it is significantly lacking at this point. I truly hope that next years app improves on these aspects and offers something that a little more purposeful.

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