The Role of Virtual Reality in the Sports Industry
Tech companies and sports programs are developing exciting ways to integrate VR into broadcasting sports, and they will engage fans like never before.
Imagine this: You’re at a basketball game and your favorite team is playing. You’re watching the action from a courtside seat, seeing your favorite players up close. After halftime, though, as the action heats up, you want a different view. So you move to a seat behind the basket. Then, in the final moments of the game, you want a birds-eye view of everything happening on the court. So you change your position once again. Now you’re floating above the court, taking in the nail-biting final seconds.
Does this sound like a fantasy? Well, tech companies and the sports industry are already working to make it a reality. You might be able to take part sooner than you think, too. Virtual Reality has been intriguing us with its capabilities for a few years now, and VR technology continues to get cheaper and more accessible. Products like Facebook’s Oculus Rift and Google’s Daydream have entered homes. By simply putting on goggles, you can enter a different world, and marketers want to take advantage of this to engage fans.
The cost of attending games continues to rise, and trends show that fans watching from home do not usually watch games in their entirety. So teams and entire leagues are working on ways to engage fans in new, exciting ways that traditional TV simply can’t achieve.
Nowadays, viewers are not solely engaged with a game on a TV screen: They are also checking their Twitter feeds to see what others are saying about the game; texting friends about goals, touchdowns, and baskets; and checking team websites for real-time updates. The sports and tech industries are working on ways to integrate these components into VR. You will be able to do all of these things with your VR goggles without ever having to take your eyes off the game.
VR will also allow fans to personalize their watching experiences. They will be able to switch camera angles, replay moments, get instant stats, make GIFs to share with their Twitter followers, or shop for a new jersey — all while being in the stadium, without actually being in the stadium.
Using VR technology to engage fans isn’t a far-off idea. It’s being developed right now. And in certain cases, it’s already being used by teams and programs. The NBA already broadcasts a game in VR every week. Other leagues broadcast special annual events in VR. One estimate predicts that major sports leagues could be increasing their total revenue by $4 billion by 2025, just through VR technology. Those at the forefront of developing this technology believe that it will become the dominant way of viewing sports. And the possibilities are endless.