VR and sports: something (big) is going on

As sports fans, we all get very excited for major events, not only because of the wonderful competition and stories of champions play out before us, but also because they bring the latest advancements in technology.

We are seeing this play out once again this year with two of the most celebrated events on the sporting calendar: the 2016/17 UEFA Champions League Final in Cardiff and the Roland-Garros in Paris.

Two major European broadcasters BT Sport and francetv sport (in partnership with Roland-Garros) are increasingly pushing Virtual Reality in their digital/broadcast coverage mix.

Notably BT Sport also revealed plans for live VR football. Speaking to Broadcast, BT TV’s chief operating officer Jamie Hindhaugh confirmed that VR would form “part of its overall coverage” of Premier League and UCL matches. He said BT Sport’s 360 production for the Uefa Champions League final from Cardiff on Saturday 3 June has been a “step change” and a template for its future coverage.

For those interested in going deeper on this topic, BT Sport’s chief engineer Andy Beale will be discussing the UCL final coverage at the Media Production Show on Tuesday 13 June.

For the French Open 2017 Roland-Garros and France Télévisions presented a new VR experience. Users are enabled to watch live matches from a virtual VIP box, with an 180° view of Philippe-Chatrier Court.

The virtual box, emulating the style of the new Roland-Garros stadium project, contains an interactive table, where fans can get information such as scores and statistics. There is also a function allowing the user to watch up to 4 matches simultaneously, while match replays (both 2D and 360º) can be viewed on demand.

Although it’s not easy to understand how fast VR in sports will grow, we do know that things are moving ahead quickly and rights holders that are innovating now will be the ones with a priceless competitive advantage in the near future.

If you would like to know more about our involvement in these VR productions, please get in touch.