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The action is about to begin. Real Madrid and Barcelona are lining up to take the field. Deafening cheers and whistles fill up the arena as frenzied fans throng into the stadium to take their seats.
You are one of them, and you consider yourself lucky because you have got one the best seats in your entire life. But it’s not in the stadium, it’s on your couch in the living room.
Such is the power of virtual reality!
Virtual reality is the next-big-thing in sports. It is the ‘the best’ way to engage with the fans, and let’s be assured, the multi-billion dollar sports industry won’t just let it go.
VR in sports is a game-changer. Here’s how it is positioned to transform sports viewing to the next-level.
- Be on the Best Seat in the Stadium
VR headset manufacturers, broadcasters, and sporting leagues around the world are partnering with tech-giants to broadcast live events in the 360-degree video. This will enable fans to attend any sporting event, virtually from the comfort of their homes.
Experts feel this is probably the biggest boost in enhancing fan experiences, ever since the advent of 24-hour sports channels. The best part is, it can be accessed from every living room, and not just yours and mine.
What makes VR sports so great is its engaging and immersive nature. It makes the experience more real than the 2D environment. This is pushing broadcasters to offer fans more appealing content, for instance, being in the dugout or at the corner of a boxing ring.
Being a relatively new broadcast medium, the biggest obstacle that VR is facing at this moment is the lack of substantial audience. Many viewers are still not aware of its existence, plus, the hardware is pretty expensive as well. This is, in fact, limiting the expansion of the VR audience base.
VR, right now, is going through the phase that smartphones went through a decade back. At first, it was prohibitively costly, but now, it is available to almost everyone. VR needs a smartphone-like tweak in the technology, which will soften its price and make it more accessible.
- Behind-the-Scene Views
VR designers simply don’t want to stop at this point. They want to add more punch to make sports viewing more enriched with theme-based VR experiences.
For instance, they want fans to be ‘in’ the moment. Like in the locker room of their favourite team, or on an F1 track, or simply in the middle of an epic football action.
VR’s inherent characteristic, which has the power to ‘teleport’ fans right into a live action, might entirely change sports viewing forever.
- Transcending Borders
Ever increasing efforts by headset manufacturers to build VR-optimized software ecosystem, is driving the development of multiple applications that allow fans to connect with appealing virtual content.
Innovative VR apps are constantly trying to create new experiences, where fans can sit and watch a game together in the virtual space. This essentially means, a Real Madrid fan in Madrid, can sit with his Indian friend in Kolkata, and watch Spanish league together!
Although sports VR is fun, it is not only about the fun. It is also a big global business that has just started to unfold. Analysts reveal, VR broadcasting is opening up a new domain for revenue generation, and major sports leagues are ready to go for it.
VR’s interactive and immersive features are also attracting the advertising space as well. Though still in infancy, leading brands are leaving no stone unturned to experiment with VR advertising.
Coca-Cola, for instance, created VR experiences during the football World Cup, which allowed fans to move through the Maracana Stadium, from player’s locker rooms to dugouts, and the field.
The VR game has just begun! Expect more action to come your way anytime soon.
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