Watching sports on television used to be a part of the culture, basically, a ritual practiced by many but it didn’t stick well with younger generations for a simple reason; they just don’t use television anymore. Social media bombardment of highlights and reviews videos satisfied their need for information so in general, they just stopped watching sports in the old fashioned way. Something fresh was needed in order to turn the tables and it seems that VR might be the answer.
Watching sports in VR gives you a completely new experience in which from the comfort of your home you can enjoy sports events just like being on the stands. Companies like Oculus with Rift and Quest headsets, Valve with Index headset and HTC Vive made astonishing progress over the past few years. Sure, things are far from being perfect and it’s still an early stage of implementation but it’s promising. We shouldn’t be discouraged from the idea just because the implementation is not perfect; we are all witnessing how fast momentum the modern technology has when it comes to changes and improvement, so we can definitely expect things to evolve to the level of mass implementation and adoption.
Where to start?
If you didn’t try watching sports in VR you are probably wondering where to find content, what headset or app should you use? So far, a couple of ‘players’ on the market have emerged as the leaders in the niche. NextVR, Fox Sports, and Oculus are battling to attract fans of NBA, NFL, Boxing, Soccer, WWE, NASCAR, and many others. Not all of those sports get live VR streams, but rather VR highlights or just major event live streams. Not everyone is satisfied with the content as the camera angles are not perfect and experienced is not quite good as expected. There is definitely a lot of space for fine-tuning but hey, we have no doubts that things will work perfectly.
FOX Sports VR
Fox Sports was a pioneer back in 2010 when it came to bringing new content in watching sports or television in general but the things didn’t quite work well too much. Now they’ve revived the VR project and they are providing an experience in the brand new way. You can find their app in the Oculus Store, and enjoy the experience of watching MLB, NASCAR, Soccer, NBA, UFC, NHL, Golf, and NFL. They also broadcast major sports tournaments like FIFA World Cup.
Fox Sports VR supports Samsung Gear VR platform, Oculus Go, and any cardboard VR viewer. While watching your event you can enter your own VIP stadium suite, teleport to different camera positions around the stadium, and talk with anyone from around the world.
NextVR is an innovative California based company that has years of experience providing VR experience for live entertainment, and sports events. It’s also a new Apple acquisition and it will be fun to see the future development of the company.
Anyhow, this company has partnered up with the NBA, Fox Sports, Wimbledon, and other live music and sporting event partners. It is compatible with headsets from PlayStation, Oculus, HTC, Microsoft, and Lenovo.
The great thing about the NextVR is the option of having multiple subscriptions inside the app, so all the content you get is customized, you don’t need to unlock everything in order to watch your sport but just the content that you need. In case you missed the game everything is kept on the app so you can watch it later, anytime you want, and in addition, all channels will offer you ‘best of moments’ clips and shots behind the scenes.
Oculus is really putting a lot of work in order to dominate the VR world in every aspect. Oculus TV is a non-gaming project in which Oculus wants people to watch TV in their headset, and in favor, of that, they have made a partnership with Showtime, Netflix, and ESPN.
Oculus Venues app is a part of the Oculus TV project, and it’s specialized in live concerts, comedy nights, and sporting events. The app is completely free and comes pre-loaded to your Oculus Go. In order to watch the event, such as basketball or baseball games, you need to load up the app, scroll through the offer and select a sport of your preference. Besides the app being free, games are also free to watch which makes Oculus great overall selection.
It’s definitely exciting to watch the evolution of VR technology in sports and what it can offer to its viewers. So far, the major obstacle for the average customer is the technology and complexity of it that stands between us (the viewer) and the sports event. We have no doubt that VR experience will be simple, much more enjoyable, and accessible to larger audiences in the future. VR has a huge potential in sports, and we can’t wait to enjoy it.